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NCAA proposes early signing periods, 10th assistant for FBS teams

Early signing periods for high school football players may soon be a reality.

The NCAA Division I Council has proposed two such 72-hour periods for recruits to sign with Football Bowl Subdivision teams the last Wednesday in June and in mid-December. The latter of those dates is already when junior college prospects are allowed to start signing.

The Division I Football Oversight Committee has recommended the proposal, which would begin with the 2017-18 signing period if adopted. The first Wednesday in February is the earliest high school players can currently sign with FBS schools.

“The working group did a deep dive on recruiting from beginning to end, and I think what we came up with as a proposal is both student-athlete-friendly and coach- and staff-friendly,” Football Oversight Committee chairman and Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby said in a statement. “We hit a sweet spot.”

The council is also proposing that a coaching staff’s limit of nine assistants be expanded to 10. Each FBS team is allowed to have up to 85 players on scholarship, but that doesn’t account for walk-ons that can push teams’ roster count well into the triple digits.

Ole Miss has 122 players listed on its roster this season.

“We feel it is appropriate from a student-athlete welfare standpoint,” Bowlsby said. “The ratio of coaches to student-athlete is much higher in football than other sports, and this helps address that.”

No more satellite camps?

Another proposal made by the council is to restrict college coaches to no more than 10 days of conducting or participating in camps and clinics for prospective student-athletes during the summer. Coaches are currently allowed to participate in two periods of 15 consecutive days, but they wouldn’t have to use the 10 days consecutively under the new proposal.

But with the NCAA acknowledging these camps are more about recruiting than skill development, the camps would have to be run by the college and conducted at its facilities unlike the satellite camps that are currently held on the campus of high schools and junior colleges. Coaches would be permitted to talk to recruits in attendance, but only coaches allowed to recruit off-campus as well as certified graduate assistants would be allowed to participate in another school’s camp.

The proposal would go into effect immediately if adopted. The council will have its final vote in April.