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NCAA adopts early football signing period, 10th assistant coach

Changes to college football’s recruiting calendar are coming.

The NCAA’s Division I Council on Friday adopted legislation that will create an early signing period in December effective Aug. 1. The only time high school seniors can currently begin signing with colleges is the first Wednesday in February.

Only the Collegiate Commissioners Association can create new signing periods, but the association is expected to give its approval. A second proposed early signing period in June was thrown out.

The legislation will also allow FBS schools to hire a 10th on-field assistant beginning Jan. 9, 2018.

It also allows for earlier official visits for recruits beginning April 1 of their junior year and ending the last week in June of the same year, though the visit can’t coincide with a recruit’s participation in a school’s camp or clinic. FBS schools will be prohibited from hiring people close to a recruit for a two-year period before and after the recruit’s enrollment.

The legislation will also put an end to satellite camps, limiting the participation of FBS coaches in camps and clinics to 10 days in June and July. The camps are required to be held on the school’s campus or at facilities regularly used by the school.

Coaches employed at the camp will be allowed to have recruiting conversations with camp participants. Educational sessions detailing eligibility, gambling rules, agent rules and drug regulations will be required at all camps effective immediately.

“This is a significant move forward for football recruiting,” Football Oversight Committee chairman Bob Bowlsby said in a statement. “The entire package of rule changes is friendly for students, their families and their coaches. We will continue to monitor the recruiting environment to make sure the rules work as intended, and we will suggest adjustments when necessary.”

No more two-a-days

The council also voted to eliminate multiple contact practices a day during the preseason.

Teams will be allowed to have a full-contact practice lasting up to three hours and a walk-through each day, but contact and protective gear (helmets and pads) are prohibited during the walk-through. A recovery time of three continuous hours is required between the practice and the walk-through with meetings, film study and medical treatment being allowed during that time.

The Division I Committee for Legislative Relief recently approved a blanket waiver that will allow teams to start fall camp up to a week earlier than normal so that they can still get in 29 preseason practices.