A vote to override the rule prohibiting men's basketball coaches from watching nonscholastic events in April failed Friday, the NCAA has confirmed. The override was defeated 55 percent to 45 percent — 144 "no" votes, 118 "yes" vote, two abstentions from Division I member schools. To be successful, the override required 62.5 percent support.
That means the legislation, which took effect in August, stays in effect. Supporters believe it protects the academic interests of prospective recruits, who miss class time to flock to high school tournaments in April.
Opponents of the legislation have argued that it increases recruiting costs, especially for programs with smaller budgets, by not allowed coaches to see recruits in one place.
"You hear the argument that the mid-majors are the ones that need that period to open up more than others, because, for cost-effective reasons, they can go see a lot of players in one setting," said Chris Woolard, Conference USA's associate commissioner of sports services. But as former head at mid-major Murray State, Woolard said he could make the argument that "those sorts of tournaments end up hurting you because you may have put in a lot of work to recruit a student-athlete who's kind of gone under the radar, and now that high school kid goes to a tournament where there are a lot of coaches from high major universities."
Woolard said he thought coaches, even in the biggest conferences, were generally split on the issue.
After the death of Wake Forest coach Skip Prosser, some coaches also became concerned about the effects of job stress, made worse on the recruiting trail, and leaned toward eliminating the April period, Woolard said. Many others believe they can gain an advantage only by outworking other programs and want to keep seeing high school players in April.
In another NCAA development regarding an April basketball issue, the Division I legislative council wants to hear more from members before deciding on the ACC's proposal to give players less time to decide whether to stay in school or enter the NBA Draft. The new rule would give players 10 days after the end of the season — or about the time spring signing period starts in mid-April — to make up their minds. Players are now allowed to remain eligible if they declare their intention to return to college within 30 days after the NBA Draft in June.
A final vote on the proposal will take place, appropriately enough, in April.
"It's funny how all this ties in together," Woolard said, adding that if the early entry deadlines for the draft are changed, high-level coaches may not feel that the April period for seeing prospects is as important.