UK Football

NCAA proposes early signing period for football; Stoops has supported it in past

UK football coach Mark Stoops voiced his support for an early signing period last year, after the Cats lost several commitments from the class of 2015.
UK football coach Mark Stoops voiced his support for an early signing period last year, after the Cats lost several commitments from the class of 2015. mcornelison@herald-leader.com

The NCAA announced Wednesday that a proposal has been introduced that would create two early signing periods for football recruits, a switch from the current system that does not allow high school players to sign a national letter of intent with the college of their choice until the first week of February of their senior year.

The proposal would create two, 72-hour early signing periods beginning on the last Wednesday in June and in mid-December.

The NCAA’s statement announcing the proposal states that “coaches and administrators have discussed creating an early signing period for years, and the Football Oversight Committee studied the issue thoroughly. Ultimately, members believe they have developed a recruiting model that balances the interests of all involved.”

If approved, the proposal would be effective for the 2017-18 signing period.

UK Coach Mark Stoops was asked about the possibility of an early signing period on national signing day last year, after the Wildcats lost several high-profile commitments late in the 2015 recruiting cycle.

“I think there’s definitely a need,” Stoops said at the time. “I can’t speak for everybody. I’d say the people I know and talk with, absolutely everybody is for an early signing period. Where and when is the big discussion. That’s where a lot of people have different opinions.

“My personal thought is it makes no sense not to. 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.”

Stoops went on to say that he would be in favor of an early period “sometime in December,” which is already the initial signing period for junior-college players.

“Give them the time to come in the fall,” Stoops said last year. “Give them the time to come in for a few weekends in December, and let them sign before Christmas and get it wrapped up. It only makes sense.”

The NCAA also announced Wednesday that it is exploring the possibility of increasing the number of Division I football assistant coaches per team from nine to 10.

“There was unanimity around the table on the addition of a 10th assistant coach being allowed (in FBS),” said Bob Bowlsby, chairman of the Football Oversight Committee and Big 12 commissioner. “We feel it is appropriate from a student-athlete welfare standpoint. The ratio of coaches to student-athletes is much higher in football than other sports, and this helps address that.”

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