CLEMSON — Football coaches at Clemson believe they have seen the future of college football recruiting, and they are concerned.
In an effort to simplify an increasingly complex and unenforceable rulebook, the NCAA has adopted a number of deregulation proposals involving recruiting that are scheduled to go into effect this summer.
There are two key areas of deregulation raising concerns. The most significant change will allow football programs to hire additional support staff — beyond the 10 full-time coaches — to assist in recruiting and evaluating prospects. In effect, creating full-time player personnel departments.
The second major change would allow coaches to send recruits unlimited text messages and mailings.
Said Clemson recruiting coordinator Jeff Scott: “Ten years from now, we’re going to look back and say, ‘What have we done?’ ”
Big Ten Conference athletic directors and coaches share Clemson’s concern. They issued a joint statement against the deregulation measures.
Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney is afraid deregulation will lead to increased spending for athletic departments. He’s concerned the deregulation could spill over to facilities, like new dorms for athletes.
“We’ve talked about saving money,” said Swinney of the national conversation about athletics, “so this doesn’t make any sense.”
Swinney sees the biggest football programs pouring millions of dollars into beefed-up support staffs that will recruit and evaluate. Last week, Alabama announced it has hired former Clemson defensive coordinator Kevin Steele to be its director of player personnel, an NFL-like title.
“What’s going to happen is these major programs are going to create personnel departments because everyone in your building can recruit,” Swinney said. “You are going to have programs that already have enormous support staffs, now those guys are going to be able to recruit. Everybody is evaluating, recruiting, calling, texting.
“There’s no limits.”
That leads to another major point of contention — coaches will now be allowed to send unlimited communications to recruits after their sophomore years in high school.
Swinney predicts significant recruiting targets will now receive up to 200 text messages a day. And he anticipates major programs will hire full-time graphic designers to produce posters designed specifically for recruits.
“Everyone can spend their money where they want to spend it,” Swinney said. “It’s going to be crazy, It’s going to make the gap bigger between the haves and the have-nots.”
Clemson athletic director Dan Radakovich said it is too early to know what might happen, especially since the NCAA Board of Directors still has several meetings scheduled before the changes are scheduled to take effect Aug. 1. Moreover, Radakovich said some of the deregulation will save money.
“There were an awful lot of costs associated with monitoring phone calls and text messages that may not be readily seen by the outside,” Radakovich said. “You would save some of the dollars associated with that. I’m not sure all of these things will (be implemented). But if they do, I think there is an opportunity to save some money in some areas and certainly an opportunity to expend some resources in other areas that heretofore you didn’t have the opportunity to do.”
Swinney said the deregulation will force programs like Clemson to make a choice.
“I think Clemson is one of those programs that’s going to have to make a decision on which way we want to go,” Swinney said. “Do we want to continue to be elite or are we going to be satisfied with pretty good?”