Archaic NCAA Recruiting Rules Need Revisiting

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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — The NCAA-mandated “quiet” period for recruiting was anything but at the University of Virginia last week.

Visitors rotated in and out of the Cavaliers basketball offices, laughing and glad handing, but Tony Bennett and his staff had to be careful not to be caught outside for too long, lest they be accused of watching and evaluating the players on the courts below participating in the NBA Players Association Top 100 Camp.

That was not a problem for Iowa coach Fran McCaffrey, who sat in the arena and watched games all week, but as a parent to camper Patrick McCaffrey.

Not that anyone really needed a reminder the NCAA rule book is needlessly complicated and nearly impossible to interpret and follow, but events such as the Top 100 Camp serve as one anyway.

“The NCAA needs to make its system better,” former Missouri star and NBA PA employee Keyon Dooling said as he watched camp action.

Last week was a NCAA mandated quiet period. That means players are allowed to take unofficial visits to campuses, but coaches can’t go see them and can’t watch them play. It’s essentially the opposite of an evaluation period and not to be confused with a dead period when coaches and recruits are more or less supposed to pretend the others don’t exist.

More than a dozen Virginia recruits were in attendance and the camp provided an opportunity for unofficial visits. Unofficial because when it comes to the NCAA, a visit can’t just be a visit.

It’s difficult to be around these kinds of events for high-level recruits and not see that the more the NCAA tries to regulate, the more loopholes it creates.

“I was here at UVA for a visit a couple weeks ago and I’m going to stay for an unofficial after the camp is over,” Class of 2018 center David McCormack said.

Having a son who is the right age and good enough to attend such a camp also helps. McCaffrey, as a the coach of a major conference program, was recognizable to nearly everyone in the building and he spent the week watching games and interacting with players and their parents.

“I like the fact that at this camp they bring us all together,” McCaffrey said. “The parents and the players and everyone.”

Of course he does. It benefits him not only as the parent of a recruit but as a head coach who can get into rooms Bennett, Bill Self, John Calipari and all the rest can’t.

Not that you can blame coaches from Virginia, Iowa or anywhere else taking advantage of any edge they can get within the overly complicated rules.

“They do a really good job at this camp,” McCaffrey said. “I can really only compare it to Nike, because my other son Connor went there. But I’ll get to check out Adidas Nations because Patrick was invited there.”

Witnessing how coaches, players and parents tiptoe the lines, it’s difficult not to wonder what’s the point. If kids need a break from the recruiting grind, then create a time of year when all recruiting stops.

But the current rules are missing the point and only makes the process more difficult for everyone involved.