CU happy to see potential addition of early football signing day

Cliff Grassmick / Staff Photographer
Colorado head coach Mike MacIntyre feels an early signing day could help his program.

Significant changes to the NCAA’s football recruiting model could lead to an early signing period that several coaches, including Colorado’s Mike MacIntyre, have wanted for years.

During its meeting in Indianapolis on Thursday and Friday, the NCAA Division I Council approved several changes to the recruiting calendar, voted to eliminate two-a-day practices, and approved the hiring of a 10th assistant coach in football.

“I think they’re all good rules,” MacIntyre said in a press release from CU. “They should be productive and good for everyone involved.”

Pending approval from the College Commissioners Association, the Division I Council made a change in its recruiting calendar to add an early signing period in December, in addition to the February signing period.

“The benefit it adds for the student-athlete that we’re recruiting is that they’ll be able to make a decision and make it final that much sooner,” Macintyre said. “Their holidays and all the other things going on in that period of time then won’t be interrupted with schools trying to flip them. All that pressure will be gone. They’ll have made their decision and can begin planning ahead that much sooner.”

CU had most of its 2017 recruiting class verbally committed long before December, but coaches spent a large chunk of their December and January visiting those committed players to make sure they were still on board.

An early signing period would allow coaches to focus that time on unsigned players and lighten their work load, especially for those teams preparing for a bowl game.

“I hope it gives some time back to the coaches,” CU athletic director Rick George said.

Other changes to recruiting include:

• A player can now schedule an official visit from April 1 of his junior year though late June (effective Aug. 1).

• FBS schools cannot hire people close to a prospective student-athlete for two years before and after that student-athlete’s enrollment date (effective immediately).

• FBS teams are limited to signing 25 prospective and current student-athletes to a first-time National Letter of Intent or financial aid agreement per year (effective for those who sign after Aug. 1 of this year).

• FBS coaches are limited to 10 days of participation in camps and clinics in June and July, and those camps must take place on campus or in facilities regularly used by the school (effective immediately).

• Coaches employed at a camp or clinic may have recruiting conversations with participating prospects. All camps must have educational sessions about eligibility standards, gambling and agent rules and drug regulations.

Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby, who is the oversight committee chairman, said on a teleconference, “I think it’s not an overstatement to suggest that this is the most comprehensive and impactful piece of legislation that we’ve had in the area of football recruiting in 25 or 30 years.

“This is important legislation and the changes will result in a much better recruiting environment and much better relationship within the process. More than anything it will give potential student-athletes more flexibility in terms of how they evaluate their choices in the recruiting environment.”

The Division I Council also approved the addition of a 10th assistant coach in football, effective Jan. 9, 2018. While that won’t go into effect until after next season, George said the CU athletic department will have to budget for that position for the upcoming fiscal year.

In addition, the Council voted to eliminate two-a-day practices, with player safety in mind.

“We continue to be guided by the recommendations from medical professionals, coaches and administrators and the strong support for discontinuing two contact practices in the same day,” Division I Council chair Jim Phillips said.

Football teams may conduct a single, three-hour, on-field practice and a walk-through in the same day. A walk-through, where helmets and pads cannot be worn, does not count as one of the 28 preseason practices.

CU held four two-a-days during its 2016 August camp and were already planning to eliminate them this year. The Buffs, who normally open fall camp in early August, will now begin on July 28.

“We want to create a world-class experience, and if it helps us do that and it helps us protect the health and wellness of our student athletes, I’m all for it,” George said.

Division II and Division III also voted to eliminate two-a-days.

Brian Howell:, on Twitter: @BrianHowell33.