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DESIRE FOR CHANGE IN RECRUITING

Most respondents want early signing; some still adjust to social media's impact.

College football's top programs will restock their rosters Wednesday with the nation's top high school prospects. As another recruiting class is about to become official, several issues could soon change the nature of the recruiting process.

What does college football think about recruiting issues? The Tampa Bay Timessent a short survey to football personnel at all 120 Division I-A programs last week, asking for responses on a few key topics significant in recruiting. There were 26 responses, at least one from every I-A conference, and the results offer a glimpse at how potential changes would be received by the coaching community.

One change that drew considerable support - 81 percent in our survey - was the addition of a fall signing period for football, as basketball has. A December date would allow schools and recruits to make their decisions binding earlier, with the February period still in place for recruits who want more time to choose their college after their seasons.

"It enables the school to continue recruiting, knowing a person is not going to change his mind at the end," said John Ballein, Virginia Tech's associate athletic director for football administration, who spoke after participating in the survey.

"Let's say your goal is to sign one quarterback, and a guy commits to you, and you go all the way up to signing day, then he de-commits that last week and goes somewhere else. Well, you've (stopped recruiting) everybody else. My belief, and coach (Frank) Beamer's belief, is an early signing period would reduce some of those issues."

A larger majority was opposed to the possibility of colleges moving to multiyear scholarships instead of the current model of one-year renewable scholarships. Eighty-eight percent said they were against multiyear scholarships, with only three responses in support of such a change.

The survey asked when it is appropriate for a college to rescind a scholarship offer, with four options: any time at a school's discretion, when a head coaching change takes place during the process, when a recruit is still taking other visits late in the process, or never. More than half, 54 percent, chose when a recruit is still visiting elsewhere, with 42 percent choosing at the school's discretion. One response was for the coaching change.

Respondents acknowledged that the advent of social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook have changed the recruiting process; 58 percent said they use such sites "very much" in monitoring recruits and where they stand in choosing a school. The question of whether those sites help or hurt recruiting produced a divided response.

About 31 percent said social media sites had made recruiting harder, 19 percent saw no significant change and half said they made recruiting easier, including 11.5 percent who said it was "much easier."

Greg Auman can be reached at auman@tampabay.com and at (813) 226-3346. Check out his blog at tampabay.com/blogs/bulls and follow him at Twitter.com/gregauman.

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The survey

The questions in and results of a Tampa Bay Times survey of all 120 Division I-A football programs about recruiting. Twenty-six schools responded.

1. Early signing period

"Would you support an early signing period for high school football players in December, six weeks before the current signing period?"

Yes: 80.8 percent

No: 19.2 percent

2. Multiyear scholarships

"Are you in favor of schools being required to offer student-athletes multiyear scholarships, as opposed to ones that are renewable each year?"

Yes: 11.5 percent

No: 88.5 percent

3. Social media

"How has the influx of social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook changed recruiting for you?"

- Made it much harder: 19.2 percent

- Made it slightly harder: 11.5 percent

- No significant change: 19.2 percent

- Made it slightly easier: 38.5 percent

- Made it much easier: 11.5 percent

"How much do you use social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook to monitor recruits and where they stand in the recruiting process?"

Very much: 57.7 percent

A little bit: 42.3 percent

Not at all: 0 percent

4. Signing day

"When is it appropriate for a school to rescind a scholarship offer to a recruit before signing day?"

Any time, at a school's discretion: 42.3 percent

If school changes head coach during recruiting process: 3.8 percent

If player is still taking visits late in recruiting process: 53.8 percent

Never: 0 percent

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Feedback

In a Tampa Bay Times survey of Division I-A programs, several offered responses to what NCAA recruiting rule they would change. Some responses:

- "Allow schools to pay for transportation for parents to and from an official visit as well as meals for siblings."

- "Eliminate high school all-star games. Their tie-in with recruiting services has disrupted the process. In addition, the recruiting services now serve as a middle man between the institution and the prospect."

- "To allow prospects to take official visits in the summer prior to their senior year. Prospects are making their school decision earlier and earlier each year, and this would allow prospects to make more educated decisions."

- "Remove ban on text messaging, relax rules on correspondence, less restrictive on 'small stuff' and more restrictive on 'big problems.'"

- "The NCAA should de-regulate the communications process. The limits on text messaging and other electronic forms of communication are outdated and cumbersome."

- "Allow the head coach to go and recruit during the spring."

- "That a recruit could never come on campus until his senior (year) has begun. Hopefully this would stop schools from offering kids at such an early age."

- "Early signing period, possibly prior to the start of their senior season. I would protect the student athlete as well."

- "At this time we are only allowed a certain amount of contacts with the prospect. I don't feel this is time enough time to properly evaluate a prospect as a person. You shouldn't be able pull a kid out of class but one day a week. You should be able to watch athletic contests more than the allotted rules at this time. Being able to talk to parents at these contests would also be helpful."

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