Trying to make sense of it all

As Athletic Director Tom Osborne prepares to hit the road recruiting, a lot of questions arise as to how he can recruit, what can he do and how does the absence of Bill Callahan effect scholarship offers, if at all. Well, here's a rundown of some things you might want to know.

As Athletic Director Tom Osborne prepares to take off on the recruiting trail, there are a lot of questions which pertain to what he can do, what the assistants can do and what this all means when the new staff is officially put into place. Along with some laymen explanations of certain rules and/or bylaws, I have included in italics, the actual letter of the law from the official NCAA site. 

The first order of business for Osborne, though, is to pass the required test which verifies that he's up-to-speed on today's rules and regulations regarding recruiting. 

It's been almost a decade since A.D. Osborne was Coach Osborne, and in that time a number of rules have either been implanted or revised due to the ever-changing world of recruiting, especially as it pertains to technology. 

To make sure all coaches who recruit off-campus for member institutions, a test is required to be taken and passed annually, to certify that these coaches are aware of all the rules pertinent to the job:

NCAA Rules and/or Bylaws in italics 

11.5 CERTIFICATION TO RECRU IT OFF CAMPUS

11.5.1 A nnual Certification Requirement. Only those coaches who have been certified may contact or evaluate any prospective student-athletes off campus. Certification must occur on an annual basis. (Adopted: 1/10/91 effective 8/1/92)  

11.5.1.1 Certification Administration. Such certification procedures shall be established administered for its member institutions by the member conferences of the Association or, in the case of an independent institution, by the NCAA national office or the conference office that administers the National Letter of Intent for that institution. Such certification procedures shall include a requirement that the coaches shall have passed a standardized national test developed by the NCAA national office covering NCAA recruiting legislation, including Bylaw 13 and other bylaws [e.g., Bylaws 15.3 (institutional financial aid award) and 14.3 (freshman academic requirements)] that relate to the recruitment of prospective student-athletes as a condition for being permitted to engage in off-campus recruiting. Member conferences shall establish the procedures for administering and correcting the test within each conference. (Adopted: 1/10/91 effective 8/1/92; Revised: 1/16/93, 4/24/03) 

Before Osborne would be allowed to step one foot off campus to recruit, this is one of the first hurdles. 

Now, Osborne's actual title would change as well. The NCAA mandates that in order for you to recruit for a particular sport, you have to be counted as a coach of that team. So, Osborne's title would change for the time being, so that he could be one of the countable coaches allowed to recruit off-campus.  

11.7.1.1.1 Countable Coach. An athletics department staff member must count against coaching limits as soon as the individual participates (in any manner) in the coaching of the intercollegiate team in practice, games or organized activities directly related to that sport, including any organized staff activity directly related to the sport.  

Within the 12 allowed coaches for Football Bowl Division (Head Coach, 9 Assistant Coaches, 2 Graduate Assistants), a maximum number of seven coaches are allowed to recruit off-campus at any one time. And of those coaches, the Head Coach is restricted in how many off-campus contacts they can have with recruits:

13.1.2.6 Bowl Subdivision Head Coach Restrictions—Off-Campus Contact. [FBS] In bowl subdivision football, the head coach may make in-person, off-campus contact with a prospective student-athlete or the prospective student-athlete's relatives or legal guardian(s) only during one calendar day. It is permissible for this contact to occur both at the site of the prospective student-athlete's educational institution and away from the institutional grounds. During such contact, the head coach may be accompanied by an assistant(s) who otherwise is required to observe the restrictions contained in the bylaws. 

In regard to the off-campus contacts, there is an NCAA limitation of six allowed off-campus, in-person contacts per prospective athlete

13.1.6.2 Football. [FBS/FCS] In football, each institution shall be limited to six in-person, off-campus recruiting contacts per prospective student-athlete at any site and shall include contacts made with the prospective student-athlete's relatives or legal guardians(s), but shall not include contacts made during an official visit per Bylaw 13.6. (Adopted: 9/12/03, Revised: 12/15/06)  

It should be noted that out of those six allowed contacts, only one is allowed to the Head Coach, as indicated above in Bylaw 13.1.2.6. All others must be used by those designated as Assistant Coaches. That is relevant, because at this time Osborne has been designated as the Head Coach, according to Assistant Athletic Director for Compliance Gary Bargen. Bargen went onto say that this title can be changed at any time, relevant to the hiring of coaches to fill vacant positions. 

There has been some question regarding phone calls and when the coaches can make them and how many can they make over what period of time. The limits on phone calls relates directly to the period of time it is during the academic year. 

There are four separate categorized periods of time which indicate what coaches are allowed to do in regard to recruiting. Those are as follows:

13.02.4 Recruiting Periods.  

13.02.4.1 Contact Period. A contact period is that period of time when it is permissible for authorized athletics department staff members to make in-person, off-campus recruiting contacts and evaluations.  

13.02.4.2 Evaluation Period. An evaluation period is that period of time when it is permissible for authorized athletics department staff members to be involved in off-campus activities designed to assess the academic qualifications and playing ability of prospective student-athletes. No in-person, off-campus recruiting contacts shall be made with the prospective student-athlete during an evaluation period.  

13.02.4.3 Quiet Period. A quiet period is that period of time when it is permissible to make in-person recruiting contacts only on the member institution's campus. No in-person, off-campus recruiting contacts or evaluations may be made during the quiet period.  

13.02.4.4 Dead Period. A dead period is that period of time when it is not permissible to make in-person recruiting contacts or evaluations on or off the member institution's campus or to permit official or unofficial visits by prospective student-athletes to the institution's campus. The provision of complimentary admissions to a prospective student-athlete during a dead period is prohibited, except as provided in Bylaw 13.7.2.5 for a prospective student-athlete who visits an institution as part of a group. During such a dead period, a coaching staff member may not serve as a speaker at or attend a meeting or banquet at which prospective student-athletes are in attendance, except as provided in Bylaw 13.1.9.1, and may not visit the prospective student-athletes' educational institutions. It remains permissible, however, for an institutional staff member to write or telephone prospective student-athletes during such a dead period. (Revised:1/11/94) 

Starting November 25th, the Contact Period is now in effect, and that will run through February 2nd

Click HERE for the full recruiting calendar.

The dates in this calendar reflect the application of Bylaw 30.10 at the time of publication of this manual but are subject to change per Constitution 5.2.3.1 or if certain dates (e.g., National Letter of Intent signing dates) are altered.  

Contact Period

(b)     November 25, 2007, through February 2, 2008, [except for (1) though (6) below]. Six in-person off-campus contacts per prospective student-athlete shall be permitted during this time period with not more than one permitted in any one calendar week (Sunday through Saturday) or partial calendar week: 

During this contact period, the visits are still limited, but per the following bylaw, phone calls made by countable coaches are unlimited. 

13.1.3.1.1 Exception—Football. [FBS/FCS] In football, one telephone call to a prospective student-athlete [or a prospective student-athlete's relatives or legal guardian(s)] may be made from April 15 through May 31 of the prospective student-athlete's junior year in high school. Additional telephone calls to a prospective student-athlete [or a prospective student-athlete's relatives or legal guardian(s)] may not be made before September 1 of the beginning of the prospective student-athlete's senior year in high school; thereafter, such telephone contact is limited to once per week outside of a contact period. During a contact period, such telephone contact may be made at the institution's discretion. (Revised: 1/10/91 effective 7/1/91, 1/16/93, 1/11/94 effective 3/15/94, 1/10/95, 1/14/97 effective 5/1/97, 10/28/97, 1/8/07)  

Another question which pops up is in regard to scholarships. Do the scholarships offered to prospective athletes now, cross over to the new staff?

The simplest answer to that is yes, because typically, no prospective athlete will receive the actual written agreement for financial aid until late-January. This offer is almost always accompanied by the National Letter of Intent for that member institution. 

While there is no concrete timeline set as to when a member institution can send this written agreement for financial aid to the prospective athletes, many schools don't send them until late-January, right before signing day, which this year occurs on February 6, 2008. There is a midyear signing date, typically known as the first chance for junior college players to sign, which was December 19, 2007. 

Of the offers extended to players right now, these are generally just outlines of the interest a school has, what the offer is for and it could contain various information, including requirements by the prospective athlete in order to qualify to compete at the NCAA level. 

These written offers are not technically offers at all and are not binding in any way to the athlete or the University. 

15.3.2.3 Written Statement Requirement. In all cases, the institutional agency making the financial aid award shall give the recipient a written statement of the amount, duration, conditions and terms of the award. The chair of the regular committee or other agency for the awarding of financial aid to students generally, or the chair's official designee, shall sign or electronically authorize (e.g., electronic signature) the written statement. The signature of the athletics director, attesting to the committee's award, does not satisfy this requirement. (Revised: 3/10/04)  

One other note about the written offer of financial aid, the offer is good for one academic year only and must be renewed each year following, during that athlete's time of eligibility at that institution. And the National Letter of Intent is only good if at the time of signing the NLI, there is a written offer of financial aid from institution for which that NLI is intended. If there isn't an offer of financial aid, that NLI is null and void.


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