Big changes coming in hoops recruiting?

The Division 1 Board of Directors will vote on a proposal today that would have huge implications on how college coaches recruit prospective student-athletes.

Nearly two weeks ago in Indianapolis, the NCAA Division 1 Management Council recommended landmark changes in the controverial, and in some quarters highly unpopular, 5/8 rule.

Opposed by 85 percent of college coaches, the 5/8 rule, which mandated that schools could add no more the five players in one year and no more than eight during a two year period, has placed severe restrictions on how coaches recruit since its inception earlier this decade.

In its place, as has been recommended, would be Proposal No. 03-112, a disincentives package designed to hold institutions more accountable for the academic progress of their student athletes.

According to the NCAA's press release concerning the new proposal, "The disincentives package anchors a long-term academic-reform initiative that combines enhanced eligibility standards, real-time measurements for student-athlete academic progress and penalties for failure to meet standards."

Furthermore, according to the release, "The package includes Proposal No. 03-112, which establishes an Academic Progress Rate (APR) that measures academic performance for all sports teams on a term-by-term basis, and Proposal No. 03-113, which puts penalties (disincentives) in place for teams that do not perform according to APR parameters."

Essentially, the new proposal was drafted with the intention of forcing college coaches to recruit with retetion of the student-athlete in mind. As such, it appears that recruiting potential "one and dones," would become more risky for college coaches as failure to meet the new standards of the APR would trigger penalties in the number of scholarships allowed to be awarded.

NCAA President Myles Brand, a supporter of the proposal, beleives the 5/8 rule is no longer effective in light of the nature of the current proposal larger academic reform measures.

"You've got to look at the five/eight rule as part of the entire academic-reform package that includes enhanced initial-eligibility and progress-toward-degree standards," Brand said. "The five/eight rule in and of itself is a rather blunt instrument, one that has had the unintended consequence of punishing some academically well-performing teams, which is why coaches have been so unhappy with it."

"But it's no longer necessary given the entire new package that has been formulated."

The Division 1 Board of Directors will vote on this and other proposals today, and if adopted, the changes would immediately allow schools to award up to 13 scholarships for the 2004-05 season.

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