January 22, 2014 PRINT Bookmark and Share

Coaches Overwhelmingly Approve Of New Recruiting Legislation

by Mike McMahon/Staff Writer

The NCAA has approved new legislation that changes regulations in recruiting, specifically when and how often college coaches can contact prospective players.

Under the old rules, coaches were not allowed to approach a player until June 15 of the player’s sophomore year of high school. Under the new legislation, that date is moved up to Jan. 1. Also, once-per-month restrictions on communication, including text messages and social media direct messages, have been lifted altogether, meaning contact can now be unlimited.

“It’s a huge step,” said one ECAC recruiting coordinator. “This is a big, big step in evening the playing field for all of us when it comes to competing for players who might have an interest in playing major junior.”

That new legislation allows college coaches to contact players before they are drafted in two of the Canadian Hockey League’s three major junior divisions. College coaches will now be able to contact players prior to their eligibility in the Ontario Hockey League and Quebec Major Junior Hockey League drafts. The Western Hockey League, which includes players in British Columbia, Alberta and western portions of the United States, among other areas, drafts players out of Bantams, which is still before this new date approved by the NCAA.

“I was shocked when I learned of the rule change,” said one Hockey East assistant coach. “I do think it is huge. I like the idea of being able to talk to kids before the (major junior) draft.”

Added a WCHA recruiter, “The ability to make our intentions known to players before they’re drafted into the CHL is a big move, and one that a lot of us have been asking for. It simply means that we can talk to these kids the same time the major junior teams do, and with the same regularity. The way our rules were before, we were hurting ourselves. For us, a lot of it is the OHL, and it levels the playing field for players between us and them for sure.”

The change in dates headlined the new legislation, which College Hockey Inc. wrote about in a story on its website Wednesday, but lifting restrictions on how often coaches can contact players is what has many in the recruiting community excited.

“It makes a massive difference,” one coach said. “The CHL teams could call or text a player whenever they wanted, and meanwhile we were stuck under own our rules. It levels the playing field for us. We’ll be able to be in contact with these kids more, instead of just once a month. Before, we had to really just hope a kid knew they were still a top priority for us and that we love the player as much as any CHL team did. We had to hope they understood that intention before, now we can make it clear.”

It also allows college programs to keep closer tabs on players that have already committed, including communication as simple as a congratulatory text after a big night.

“The biggest thing for me is it allows us to stay in communication with our committed players a lot easier now,” a Hockey East coach said. “The once-a-month no texting was hard. I like the fact that I can look at a box score now and just send a text to a committed player or recruit on how they did. It keeps us in their minds more.”

Many players verbally commit to programs prior to their junior years of high school. Just last week, a ‘00-born player committed to Maine. Under NCAA rules, players can talk to prospective programs only if the player initiates the contact.

Because of that, the role of the family advisor has taken on a larger scope with younger commits, often serving as a conduit for college programs to express their interest in players.

“Now we can just call a kid or family directly (on Jan. 1 of their sophomore year), which is how it should be,” said one coach.

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