If you ever have a free hour with nothing to do a good diversion is to get a hold of the NCAA Rules Book for intercollegiate athletics. The first thing that will strike you is how many rules there are, but what most of them seem to boil down to is don’t do anything you wouldn’t want on the front page of your local newspaper. There are plenty of NCAA rules that we here at Coaches Hot Seat would consider changing, but we are going to focus on 4 Rule changes that the NCAA really needs to take a hard look at, and in our mind needs to get about changing ASAP. Here are our NCAA rule changes recommendations (and 1 US law change):
1. Move up Signing Day for college football- If there is one thing we agree with the BCS Boys and the presidents and chancellors at our universities on it is that a must is to make sure that college football is a one semester sport. To us that means playing the conference champoinship games the first Saturday in December, followed by National Signing Day on the next Tuesday, then take one week off before the new NCAA Football Tournament, which would be a 16-team 4-week playoff for the NCAA National Championship (Until a college football team hosts the NCAA Championship trophy won via a playoff they have not won a National Championship). If a NCAA Football Tournament was created and played in the above way the National Championship game would be played on the weekend (early January) before classes for the winter term begin for most of our colleges and universities. Relative to really making college football a one-semester sport, we believe it is in the best interests of the game, but really in the best interests of the high schools recruits, to move college football’s Signing Day up to the first Tuesday in December, which would be the Tuesday after the conference championship games. It makes little sense to drag college football into the month of February and to further stress both the colleges that are doing the recruiting and the high schools players that are getting recruited through the holidays each year. By moving Signing Day up to the first Tuesday in December, it would free up teams to fully focus on the college football postseason, and not allow teams not in the postseason to get an upper-hand when they are sitting at home doing nothing. In addition to moving Signing Day up to the first week of December, the NCAA should also institute a “quiet period” for the next year’s recruits that would run from Signing Day (in early December) until around the first of February of the next year. There is no reason that high school students should be recruited through the holidays, and we cannot imagine that college football coaches wouldn’t mind actually having the time to spend with their families during that time of the year. For the 16 teams in the NCAA Football Tournament and in bowl games, moving up the Signing Day would allow them to prepare to play football games, while not worrying about recruiting. Most importantly, the high school kids being recruited could get Signing Day done in early December, focus on their final exams for the fall semester and be able to start their final semester of high school without people haranguing them about what college they are going to sign with. Moving up the college football Signing Day to the early December makes sense, and it should be done ASAP.
2. College Basketball starts to soon and plays too many games- Talking about making sure that college football is a one-semester sport, how silly is it that college basketball starts right in the middle of football season? College basketball starts about a month to soon, and there is no reason for it, other than to extend the college basketball season and to play some meaningless games to jack-up everyone’s win/loss record. Midnight Madness should not be in the middle of October, but rather in the middle of November, and the first college basketball games should begin around the first of December. The out-of-conference games could be played in the month of December/early January and the conference games could begin soon thereafter. There is no way college basketball is ever going to be on center stage with the college football season in full-swing, and if the people running intercollegiate athletics really care about these student-athletes they will shorten the college basketball season. One benefit of moving up the college football Signing Day is that college basketball would have center stage once the NCAA Football Tournament National Championship Game was played the first week of January, and that would be a huge benefit to the game and the athletes that play it. College basketball season starts too soon and is too long and this rule change should be made ASAP.
3. Head Football Coach takes another job or retires, student-athletes with 3 or more years of eligibility can transfer without sitting out a year – The area of the NCAA rules that do not allow a student-athlete to transfer without sitting out a year are some of the egregious on the books, but we do understand the basic logic behind these transfer rules. If student-athletes could transfer without penalty, it would encourage kids to not only leave schools for silly reasons, but also for coaches to recruits kids from other college football teams, and we believe college coaches would recruit like crazy to try and get players to transfer. Within the transfer rules, we believe that a new rule needs to be put into place that allows student-athletes at a school where the head football coach either takes a job with another school or retires, which allows members of that athletic team that are on scholarship with at least 3 years of eligibility remaining, to transfer to another school without sitting out a year (that was a mouthful!). This rule change makes sense in so many ways, but mainly because a student-athlete with 3 years of eligibility remaining could easily transfer to another school and pick up his studies without much trouble. The main reason that this rule needs to put into place is that when a kid signs with a school he often does because of the head and assistant football coaches, and it is just not right that a coach can just suddenly take another job without penalty, but the student-athlete is penalized for transferring. This transfer rule which allows student-athletes with 3 years of eligibility to transfer without sitting out when a head football coach either moves to another job or retires should be implemented by the NCAA ASAP.
4. Bad APR (Academic Progress Rate) = Lost Scholarships so Good APR should = More Scholarships- You have to applaud the NCAA’s efforts to not only raise the standards of recruits entering college, but also to set up a system with their Academic Progress Rate that measures the success of student-athletes once they get to college. The Academic Progress Rate uses some kind of formula that we cannot quite decipher, but the NCAA does come up with a number that is assigned to each school, and if the APR rate falls below a certain number then that school can lose athletic scholarships. We believe that the inverse should also be true, in that a school that achieves an ARP above a certain number should receive additional scholarships to award to student athletes. Even one extra scholarship means a lot in college football, and can you imagine the focus that a Nick Saban, Mark Richt, Pete Carroll would put on academics if they could gain one or two additional scholarships if they graduated more players? If the NCAA is going to penalize schools that don’t do a good job of graduating players, then they should reward schools that do graduate players, which is really the point of going to college isn’t it? A rule that reward schools for graduating players by rewarding more scholarships to those schools should be passed ASAP.
5. Change the drinking age back to 18 – The last rule change that we recommend is actually a change in state and federal law. The law we are talking about is the age that one must be to drink alcohol, or rather the “You have to be 21 drink a beer” law. It is outrageous that our young Americans can serve in the military (where they can drink on military bases at 18!), vote for the President, go to college, but they cannot drink alcohol. For colleges and college towns, having the drinking age at 21 creates all kinds of havoc, because young people being young people, will try and they will find a way to drink alcohol. In particular this causes all kinds of problems on sports teams, because half the team is able to go out to bars with friends, but the other half is on the outside looking in, unless of course they have a good fake ID. How silly, and how very unfair for our society to require our 18 year old men to register for selective service, but to deny them the right to a beer. We are not the only ones that understand the absurdity of having the drinking age at 21. The police chief of the city of Boulder, Colorado recently appeared on 60 Minutes advocating a return of the legal drinking age to 18 (Boulder police chief: Consider returning legal drinking age to 18). Also, a former president of Middlebury College, John M. McCardell, has put together an organization (Choose Responsiblity) that details the terrible public policy of a 21 year old drinking age, and the very valid reasons that our young Americans should be able to either choose or not to choose to drink at 18. Of course, people will argue that by lowering the drinking age, “X” number of more people will die in traffic accidents, and that our young people will start drinking earlier. We have some news for people that would make such arguments, the 18 year olds that want to drink are already drinking, both in and outside of bars, and there is not a damn thing a million man police force could do about that drinking. We know that our young people will drink if they want to, because several of us at Coaches Hot Seat got caught up in the raising of the drinking age 25 years ago. Even though we were not of legal age, if we wanted beer there were always plenty of people around that were old enough to buy it, and as for getting into bars near campus, well, it wasn’t that hard is all we are going to say. The inverse of the argument that by raising the drinking age more people will die on the road is of course, that if you raised the drinking age to 25 or 30 or even 50, then there would “X” number of less deaths on our roads, but if you take that argument to its logical conclusion you have Prohibition. If a country is going to demand that their 18 year olds go to war if necessary, then dammit they should be able to walk into a bar and drink a beer. If a student is mature enough to leave home and go to college, then dammit they should be able to walk into a bar and drink a martini. It is time to return the legal drinking age to 18, because the current drinking age is an absurdity and not fair to our young people that we expect to act like adults when they arrive at boot camp, enter the work force after high school, or arrive at a college campuses for that matter. If you can fight, and you can vote, and you can go to college, then you should be able to have a drink. The only thing we ask is that our young people drink responsibly. Have fun, have a few drinks, but make damn sure you don’t get behind the wheel of a car or stagger out into the road on the way back to the dorm. America needs to bring our 18 to 20 year olds out of the shadows, out of their apartments, out of hiding and let them drink like adults, in bars and in public. America also needs to quit acting like prudes when it comes to drinking and just face facts that our young people will drink and party at college, and let’s just hope the parents out their taught their kids well enough so that they know when it is okay to act like an idiot, and when it is time to go home. The legal drinking age should be 18, and the sooner the better.
Well, there you have it, 4 NCAA rules and 1 US/State law that we believe should be changed ASAP.