This time, it's the coaches, not the NCAA, that's holding college basketball back from its evolution.
Instead of making phone-call rules simpler, easier to govern, more logistical and pragmatic, 106 institutions and their coaches recently contacted the NCAA, asking for the organization -- which passed Proposal 2010-30 earlier this year -- to reconsider. These coaches had nothing to do with college basketball, by the way. It's true; the new rule proposed had to do with other sports bringing in the same rule -- calling kids in their junior year of high school -- that college basketball already allows.
But it was shot down. So why am I dedicating a post to it on a Monday in mid-July? Well, first of all, it's a Monday in mid-July, and I spent about an hour scanning the Internet, desperate to find something I could contribute to this space here in our corner of the Web. But also, unfortunately, this blowback from more than 100 schools seems to be an omen or a line of thinking that will seep into the college basketball world. It's now looking gloomy that any sort of major overhaul to phone/Twitter/Facebook/Google+ (welcome, Google+!) may not come soon.
When it comes to recruiting by way of digital and social media, many coaches are scared. Call it Stockholm Syndrome for the college coach?
Me, I do this.
Excellent podcast guest John Infante explains why nearly a third of D-I institutions voting against expanded phone-call rules in smaller sports means college basketball will soon be a victim of halted progression in his blog post today.
... a bigger proposal coming this year that removes limits on the frequency of calls now looks much less likely to pass. That proposal will cut down dramatically on monitoring costs since schools would only need to check that coaches are not calling prospects too early. Proactive monitoring systems would also become much more affordable and accessible for smaller schools. It’s an issue of priorities. The membership has reiterated that early recruiting and competitive equity are still major priorities. But if extra benefits, agent activity, and pay-for-play are also priorities, that means something has to give, in this case having a smaller, simpler rule book which requires less administrative overhead to maintain and enforce.Not all phone rules are created equally. We may see evolution in one while another gets stuck in cement, plagued to be as archaic as ever for the next five years or so. Point is, it's not likely we're going to have re-drafts to phone-related recruits bylaws in one big revolutionary way. That's unfortunate, because a lot of the hoops in place became rusty and outdated years ago.
I think this is happening because of an inferiority complex that can never go away. The recruiting game will never be a level playing field. The 106 coaches/adminstrators who contacted the NCAA? Most likely all from low- and mid-major programs, who want as many clamps on the big boys as possible. Forget fluidity and commonsense business practices -- the small boys want to make life as uncomfortable and difficult for the BCS schools as possible. This is one of only a few ways to keep the scales from completing tipping under its weight.
You think there are too many kinks in the rulebook? Many coaches would agree with you. But plenty of others are creatures of habit and like the restrictions they have right now. For many coaches, broader rules and wider recruiting landscapes can only mean one thing: advantage, BCS schools.
If you're upset with the lack of initiative for change in the NCAA, you can now see why it's just as fair to direct your anger at the coaches as the NCAA.