Early signing period tabled for a year

A decision to create an early signing period for college football has been put on hold until the entire recruiting process gets a comprehensive review.

At a meeting Wednesday of the Collegiate Commissioners Association in Asheville, North Carolina, FBS leaders decided to table for one year a proposed a 72-hour signing period for high school prospects in mid-December that would line up with the dates junior college players can sign.

The CCA administers the national letter of intent and there has been talk about changing when football players should be allowed to sign for years. Supporters say it will allow players who have made up their minds to remove themselves from the hassles of being recruited and give college coaches the chance to concentrate on players who are truly undecided.

Research by the committee that worked on the proposal found the vast majority of players who verbally commit to a college before their senior seasons end up signing with that college.

The early signing period would have gone into effect this season and started Dec. 16. The current signing period begins the Wednesday of the first full week of February.

Mid-American Conference Commissioner Jon Steinbrecher, who led the early signing committee, said even though the majority of commissioners supported the proposal he was fine with a vote being deferred for one year. He said the commissioners want to allow the new NCAA football oversight committee to take a long, thorough look at recruiting.

"We had a subcommittee just on recruiting culture," Steinbrecher said.

The oversight committee, which is led by Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby, is expected to examine an array of recruiting issues such as coaches signing more recruits than they can fit on the roster in anticipation of attrition, satellite camps, early enrollment and the influence of 7-on-7 football teams, especially those not run by high schools.

"It made sense to take a bigger look and do something from a global perspective instead of something that's just detailed," Steinbrecher said.

The Southeastern Conference was the only FBS leagues that came out publicly against the early signing proposal.

The SEC leaders object to an early signing period because they fear it could cause recruiting to intrude on the seasons of high school and college teams and force schools to make decisions on players before first semester academic information is available.

SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey has said an early signing period would create a de facto new signing day.

Steinbrecher said he is still confident the proposal his committee put together will be put to a vote.

"I think the proposal is solid," Steinbrecher said. "If people want to have an early signing period, I think this is a fine time do to it. Frankly, I don't think there are a lot of options."

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