Georgia has issues with NCAA's recruiting legislation

semerson@macon.comFebruary 20, 2013 

ATHENS - The NCAA quietly last month announced that it was basically de-regulating recruiting: All sorts of things that were previously off-limits would now be legal, whether it be unlimited texting and calling recruits, non-coaching staff members being able to recruit, and no limits on what could be mailed to recruits.

Other than cash, of course. Paying recruits is seemingly one of the last things that would still be off limits. Otherwise, it would basically be anything-goes in recruiting.

But there is opposition afoot: The Big Ten has already made clear it will support overriding the legislation, which as of now is set to go into effect this summer. And while the SEC hasn't announced anything as a collective, several coaches and administrators have come out to say they would support overriding it.

That includes Georgia athletics director Greg McGarity, who was featured Monday in a New York Times article talking about the "red flags" that came up during a recent meeting with his coaches about what they would do under the new legislation.

“Some school is going to want to get on the high dive with this and go all in and spend and spend,” McGarity told The Times. “It is going to start a round of competition among schools that is going to be limitless.”

UGA president Michael Adams also spoke last week, saying some of the proposals likely needed to be rolled back.

Georgia men's basketball head coach Mark Fox on Wednesday backed up his bosses, saying that he didn't "know anybody" who favored the massive de-regulation.

"When they de-regulate the amount of communication and mail and contact that you can have with prospective student-athletes, well your workload just multiplied thousands of percent. Because we're all gonna do that," Fox said. "So if there's that much more work to be possible to be done, then you're gonna want to have more manpower to do it. There's serious concern where that would go."

Basketball coaches have actually had unlimited electronic contact with recruits for a year now. They were the "guinea pig" for much of the NCAA's coming legislation, to use Fox's words - but Fox pointed out there was additional de-regulation that would be new to basketball. And he thinks it would lead to spending gone amok.

Fox used the example of schools preparing life-sized cut-outs of recruits and sending those out. Well, imagine having to do that for every recruit, in every sport, and the lengths teams will go to try to out-do what their rivals are doing to entice recruits.

"I mean the cost of doing some of those things is enormous," Fox said. "That's probably not an area that's wise to get into."

There's a provision in particular that doesn't make sense to Fox: Staffers who haven't passed the NCAA's standard recruiting test could now recruit.

"I could hire you guys (the media) and say: Hey, we're gonna pay you money to contact recruits and produce material for us, and you don't even have to open the NCAA rulebook," Fox said. "We've still gotta have some parameters around it. ... Everyone favored (some) de-regulation, but if we don't keep some parameters, then you've opened the floodgates for some major, major spending."

MY TAKE: I would put good odds that much of the de-regulation gets over-ridden. When the Big Ten and SEC agree on something, that should tell you there's a consensus out there.

Mark Richt and his staff haven't been asked about this yet - he will in under two weeks, when spring practice begins - but it would seem a safe guess that Richt agrees with Fox, McGarity and Adams.

Tennessee head coach Butch Jones also spoke out on Wednesday.

"As coaches, as peers, we're trying to get it stopped," Jones said, according to The Tennessean. "I can't believe we didn't have a say."

Follow Seth Emerson at @sethemerson.

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