NCAA reforms aimed at taking glitz out of recruiting trips
Published: Tuesday, February 1, 2005 at 4:30 p.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, February 1, 2005 at 4:30 p.m.
NEW YORK (AP) - As one of the top high school football players in the country, Dajleon Farr took recruiting trips to LSU, Miami, Nebraska and Oklahoma.
He toured the campuses, checked out the facilities, met some of the players and coaches and got a 48-hour feel for life as a student-athlete at a football powerhouse.
But he didn't get to see his name in lights. As of last year, that's against the rules.
"I remember watching that in "The Program," and I was like, I can't wait until it's my turn to take my trip and I'll see my name on the scoreboard and get to run out on the field," said Farr, a tight end from Houston's North Shore High School.
High-profile scandals involving football recruits at Colorado and Miami prompted the NCAA to take what it called emergency action last summer.
No longer are schools allowed to woo prospects with rock star treatment. Fancy hotels, ritzy restaurants and private planes are now off limits. So are personalized jerseys and the use of simulated game-day activities, like the ones Farr saw in the movie "The Program," a 1993 film about a fictitious scandal-ridden college football team.
The NCAA also now requires schools to file a written recruiting policy with their conference or the NCAA.
NCAA vice president David Berst, who chaired the panel that came up with the reforms, said the goal is to change the philosophy of recruiting and stamp out the "culture of entitlement," as NCAA president Myles Brand referred to it.
"I think it remains to be seen if it has any long-term benefit of reducing the celebrity of the recruiting weekends," Berst said. "You shouldn't win the recruiting war by a lobster tail. You should win by an academic major, as foreign as that concept may be to some."
National signing day is Wednesday.
American Football Coaches Association executive director Grant Teaff said most of the reforms have been well received by coaches.
"I haven't heard one word of complaint," he said. "Though we may get that after signing day."
He said many schools don't have the type of perks available to them _ five-star hotels and restaurants, for example _ that the NCAA outlawed using. But some do, and opposing coaches were happy to see the playing field leveled.
"I can't imagine offering our recruits five-star hotels or restaurants," new LSU coach Les Miles said. "If staying where they have a hot tub in the room is important to them, this isn't the place for them."
New Mississippi coach Ed Orgeron was recruiting coordinator and defensive line coach for Southern California. He said the new restrictions did little to change how USC ran recruiting visits and he doesn't anticipate them being a problem at Ole Miss.
"I really feel there's more focus on the weekend on things that really matter, such as academics and athletics," he said.
Rutgers coach Greg Schiano was disappointed that he had to stop taking recruits on the Scarlet Walk, following the path the Scarlet Knights take on game day into the their new stadium, where the prospects' names would be displayed on the scoreboard.
"It think that's big, a kid getting a feel for being a part of the program for 48 hours," said Schiano, entering his fifth year with Rutgers.
Teaff said the reform that prompted the most protest from coaches was prohibiting college's from using chartered or private planes to transport recruits. About 35 Division I-A schools don't have a commercial airport near by, Teaff said. It saves time for those schools to use charters, but as Teaff pointed out, "There's no private planes to get you there when you become a student."
"Coaches can use reality to an honest benefit," he said.
The NCAA's new rules were a response to two highly publicized embarrassments to college football.
Colorado was accused of using sex and alcohol to entice recruits. The scandal was set off by lawsuit filed by a woman who said she was raped by CU players or recruits in 2001.
At Miami, the Hurricanes offered a scholarship to a player who was already on probation when he was charged with hugging a woman without her permission and setting off hotel fire extinguishers while on a recruiting trip to the University of Florida. Miami eventually let star high school linebacker Willie Williams enroll.
Farr has given a verbal commitment to Miami and is expected to make it official Wednesday. As for missing out on his Hollywood moment as a recruit, he wasn't all that disappointed.
"It wasn't a big deal," he said. "I'll get that eventually."
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