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NCAA Tightens Rules for Recruits

Legislation, which goes into effect immediately, is designed to end perks given to prospective student-athletes during their visits.

August 06, 2004|David Wharton | Times Staff Writer

The NCAA enacted emergency legislation on Thursday to address what President Myles Brand called an "anything goes" environment among colleges recruiting high school athletes.

The new rules, which govern how prospects may be transported and entertained, were established on the same day that a University of Colorado regent lashed out at his colleagues and Gov. Bill Owens for not taking sufficient action in response to a recent recruiting scandal at that school.

Jim Martin, a regent at large, called upon Brand to "personally engage himself and the [NCAA] in helping us."

Though Brand had no comment regarding Martin's plea, he was on a national teleconference an hour later detailing the changes the NCAA's Division I board of directors had adopted earlier in the day.

The rules, which take effect immediately, state that colleges may bring recruits for a visit on commercial flights only, in coach class, not on private or chartered airplanes.

Once on campus, prospects can be driven around only in standard vehicles.

"Meals and lodging should be within the realm of common sense, not in some incredibly fancy hotel or meal-of-a-lifetime," said Robert Hemenway, chair of the NCAA board and University of Kansas chancellor.

Moreover, the use of student hosts to show athletes around campus must come under the purview of the admissions department.

In addition to adhering to these restrictions, athletic departments must draft a recruiting policy that is signed by the head of the university and submitted to either their athletic conference or the NCAA.

The policy must prohibit all illegal and inappropriate activities such as drinking, sex, drug use and gambling by recruits.

Athletic programs can then be held accountable for following the policies they have set, or face penalties for failing to do so.

"We have taken these steps because there are real problems out there," Brand said.

Reports of high school prospects being offered alcohol and sex were at the heart of the Colorado scandal.

At least nine women have reported being sexually assaulted by Colorado football players and recruits since 1997. Coach Gary Barnett was suspended for nearly four months and the situation has come under grand jury investigation.

Martin criticized his fellow regents for not implementing recommendations from an independent investigative commis- sion.

"By not taking vigorous action this university has failed its faculty, students, alumni and staff," he said. "And we have failed the citizens of Colorado."

At the NCAA, Hemenway said that Thursday's legislation was a first step in trying to "put an end to the celebrity atmosphere that has developed around the recruiting visit."

Two other major rule changes are being considered and could be voted upon in the coming school year.

The first would reduce the number of recruiting trips a high school student may take from five to four.

The second would allow universities to pay airfare for one parent to accompany the recruit on a visit.

"I think there is a good chance they might pass," Hemenway said. He added, "Recruiting visits must be designed so that student-athletes can evaluate the entire campus environment to find the best academic and athletic program for them."

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