Recruiting: Time to fly straight


University of Florida Athletic Director Jeremy Foley fields questions from media during a press conference.

Sun file photo
Published: Friday, January 7, 2005 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, January 7, 2005 at 1:27 a.m.
The days of wine and roses are over in college football recruiting.
Certainly, there still will be plenty of schmoozing and pampering on official campus visits, but prospects will no longer be privy to the old luxuries: Private plane rides, extravagant meals and suites in four-star hotels.
Last summer, the NCAA adopted recruiting reforms (pertaining to all sports) that now are in effect and will have a substantial impact on football recruiting weekends. The reforms spawned from two high profile events last year: The sex scandal at Colorado and the recruiting odyssey (recorded in a diary) of Miami signee Willie Williams, highlighted by his untamed visit outside the law in Gainesville.
"(The reforms) are a step in the right direction," Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley said. "We'll go through a year and see what worked and what didn't work and go from there. The whole system is better than what we had a year ago."
The major changes concern travel, lodging and meals. Schools can no longer fly recruits to and from campus in a private plane or put them up in luxury hotels or feed them exorbitant meals at what would be considered upscale restaurants.
Of those reforms, the only one that means a change in policy at UF is the one concerning the use of privates planes. UF already housed recruits in what would be considered standard hotel accommodations and offered standard meals, usually catered and served on campus.
"The reforms really don't have a major impact on us because we were already close to standard policy," recruiting coordinator Mike Locksley said. "They shouldn't have a major impact on us."
UF will be impacted by the elimination of private planes. Over the years, the Gators have used private planes extensively to ferry recruits to and from Gainesville. Now, all recruits must take commercial flights.
"That's the most significant change," said Jamie McCloskey, UF's associate athletic director for compliance. "We pretty much used one every weekend, especially if we had a number of prospects coming in from the same area. Now, it's a matter of them going to the airport (and flying commercially). Everybody has to play by the same rules. Hopefully, no one will make their decision based on an airport."
Other changes include: The elimination of female hosts (in UF's case, the Gator Guides, formerly the Gator Getters) and player introductions on the field designed to simulate a game-type atmosphere.
In the past at UF, recruits had a chance to run out of the tunnel and onto Florida Field and were shown individual highlight tapes of themselves on the scoreboard's jumbo screen. Schools also will no longer be allowed to hang jerseys in the locker room with the names of recruits.
"We'll still be able to give recruits the Florida experience," Locksley said.
Another NCAA reform requires each school to come up with a written document detailing the NCAA rules concerning official visits and the school's own policies.
Florida has done so in a six-page document entitled "Recruiting Principles and Practices at the University of Florida." The document details the responsibilities of coaches, recruits and school administrators and establishes rules being implemented by UF that do not fall under the NCAA reforms.
UF's rules include:
  • A nightly curfew. Prospects and student hosts must check-in at the hotel or dorm with a full-time staff member by 1 a.m.
  • At the start of the campus visit, coaches must go over the school's zero tolerance policy for drug and alcohol consumption. Also, the University Athletic Association will not provide alcohol to the parents of prospects.
  • Prospects and student hosts must sign a form indicating he or she will not engage in inappropriate conduct during the visit.
  • Prospects are prohibited from entering adult entertainment establishments, including strip clubs and topless restaurants.
  • Prospects making a visit must obtain a letter of recommendation from the prospect's head coach or principal or guidance counselor. A copy of the letter must be on file in the UF compliance office before a national letter-of-intent can be offered.
  • Coaches are expected to thoroughly research the background and character of each prospect. Any issues should be discussed with the athletic director.
    "We've instituted some things in terms of supervision," Foley said. "We're trying to do a better job of educating the hosts and the recruits.
    "(The curfew) is important. When you bring kids on campus they're your guest and your responsibility. It's an area where we were not as good as we could have been or need to be. The curfew will help that.
    "We had an issue (Williams' conduct) that pointed out some of the weaknesses of the system. We're trying to get better."
    You can reach Robbie Andreu at andreur@gvillesun.com or by calling (352) 374-5022

    ON THEIR WAY

    The following football prospects are expected to visit UF this weekend:
    PLAYER POS. HT./WT. HOMETOWN/HIGH SCHOOL
    Nyan Boateng WR 6-3/190 Brooklyn, N.Y./Abraham Lincoln
    Curtis Crouch OL 6-6/320 Fayetteville, N.C./E.E. Smith
    James Davis RB 6-0/205 Atlanta/Douglass
    R.J. Jackson RB 5-11/200 Houston/Westside
    David Nelson WR 6-6/196 Wichita Falls, Texas/Rider
    Lawrence Wilson DE 6-5/235 Akron, Ohio/St. Vincent-St. Mary
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