A decision to create an early signing period for college football has been put on hold until the entire recruiting process gets a comprehensive review.
Kentucky Coach Mark Stoops has been among the most vocal supporters in the country of an early signing period.
At a meeting Wednesday of the Collegiate Commissioners Association in Asheville, N.C., FBS leaders decided to table for one year a proposed 72-hour signing period for high school prospects in mid-December that would line up with the dates junior college players can sign.
The CCA administers the national letter of intent that recruits sign to make their verbal commitments to a school binding. There has been talk about changing when football players should be allowed to sign for years. Supporters say it will allow players who have made up their minds to remove themselves from the hassles of being recruited and give college coaches the chance to concentrate on players who are truly undecided.
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Kentucky lost a total of six commitments during the time period between December (when an early signing period would be imposed) and national signing day last February:
■ Jeremiah Dinson (Auburn)
■ Andrew and David Dowell (Michigan State)
■ DaVon Hamilton (Ohio State)
■ Tyrone Riley (N.C. State)
■ Jason Strowbridge (North Carolina)
The Dowell twins were four-star recruits and two of UK's top commitments for the class of 2015 before they flipped on Jan. 28.
"My personal thought is it makes no sense not to (have an early signing period)," Stoops said on signing day, while acknowledging that he understood the Southeastern Conference opposed the idea. "We recruit these guys for over a year, year and a half, two years. Whatever it may be. And if they give us their word and want to come to Kentucky, then give them the scholarship and let them sign it, and that protects both them and you."
Research by the committee that worked on the proposal found the vast majority of players who verbally commit to a college before their senior seasons end up signing with that college.
The early signing period would have gone into effect this season and started Dec. 16. The current signing period begins the Wednesday of the first full week of February.
"The pros are it (an early signing period) clears things up for both the players and for the universities. It would save an awful lot of money and an awful lot of time. If you know you're going to sign somebody, it just makes sense to get it done," Stoops said during an ESPN roundtable on the topic this week.
"The reason I say it protects the players is because I think some people get very offended because people just throw out offers all over the place, and maybe they're not committable offers. Put your money where your mouth is. If you're going to offer somebody a scholarship and they want to take it, then sign the papers."
Mid-American Conference Commissioner Jon Steinbrecher, who led the early signing committee, said even though the majority of commissioners supported the proposal he was fine with a vote being deferred for one year. He said the commissioners want to allow the new NCAA football oversight committee to take a long, thorough look at recruiting.
"We had a subcommittee just on recruiting culture," Steinbrecher said.
The oversight committee, which is led by Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby, is expected to examine an array of recruiting issues such as coaches signing more recruits than they can fit on the roster in anticipation of attrition, satellite camps, early enrollment and the influence of 7-on-7 football teams, especially those not run by high schools.
"It made sense to take a bigger look and do something from a global perspective instead of something that's just detailed," Steinbrecher said.
The Southeastern Conference was the only FBS league that came out publicly against the early signing proposal.
"Central to our concerns is that we often times deal with recruiting issues in isolation," SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey said.
The SEC leaders object to an early signing period because they fear it could cause recruiting to intrude on the seasons of high school and college teams and force schools to make decisions on players before first semester academic information is available.
Sankey has said an early signing period would create a de facto new signing day.
"The indication is we are not alone in our concerns," he said.
Steinbrecher said he is still confident the proposal his committee put together will be put to a vote.
"I think the proposal is solid," Steinbrecher said. "If people want to have an early signing period, I think this is a fine time do to it. Frankly, I don't think there are a lot of options."
"I really don't see any negatives to having an early signing period," the UK coach told ESPN. "Now exactly when that is, that's where we need some discussion."