Big Ten football coaches push league to lobby NCAA for June official visits
CHICAGO - Expansion has dominated conversation, but it’s not the only issue on the Big Ten’s plate during this week’s spring meetings.
The conference’s football coaches met Tuesday to discuss legislation they want to get in front of the NCAA board of directors. One possibility? June official visits.
“So many kids are taking unofficial visits right now and the cost to families is astronomical trying to go see X amount of schools in June,” Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald said. “It only makes sense. How many of these kids are making early decisions, making verbal commitments, without ever taking an official visit that you can pay for to be on campus for that 48-hour window? It makes a ton of sense to us as a group.”
Big Ten coaches formulated a proposal for spring official visits last year, but Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez said it never got out of committee.
Currently, prospects are allowed five official visits during their senior year of high school.
“Maybe it didn’t pass because if you compare visiting way down south in June (to) Ann Arbor in June, they might rather be in Ann Arbor, right?” Rodriguez said. “Maybe it’s because some of the schools like it when in January the weather’s a little different in Ann Arbor than in Miami, I don’t know.
“But the argument that it takes away from school time and all that, they have school in December and January, too, right? They have school in the fall when they visit. I wish we would revisit that, but I don’t know if that’s going to come back up again.”
Rodriguez said Big Ten athletic directors and faculty representatives supported the coaches’ proposal last year.
In previous seasons, coaches have discussed the merits of an early football signing period (in December) and standardizing five years of eligibility.
“We may bring back up the five-year of eligibility thing and just give it the old college try again,” Rodriguez said. “Being reactionary doesn’t do a whole lot for you. You have to be, OK, what do we need to try to push for next year’s cycle?”
Dave Birkett covers University of Michigan football for AnnArbor.com. He can be reached by phone at 734-623-2552 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @davebirkett.