Growing Belief Among Coaches Big 10 Proposal Will Pass

Posted by: Mike McMahon

Talking to several college hockey coaches this week on a variety of topics, one issue that keeps coming up is the proposed Big 10 legislation to limit the recruiting of 21-year-old freshmen.

According to five different coaches this week, all who voted against the measure in the informal straw poll that was conducted, they expect the measure to pass when the NCAA council votes officially on the legislation next year.

As one coach put it:

“This is big in terms of college hockey, but for the people voting on this council, this is not a big deal. They’re going to look at this, see that it was proposed by the Big 10, and I’m expecting it will be passed in a matter of minutes. They’ll have more important things to discuss.”

If that comes to fruition, it’s good news for the 11 programs that voted in favor of the measure. Some of those head coaches have cited “stockpiling” as a reason for the proposal being needed.

Two weeks ago, I compiled a list of commitments, both verbal and signed, by team. Some of these numbers are swayed by expected graduation of seniors, as well as teams prepping for pro signings.

I’m just not sure that this proposal truly stops teams from over-committing and “stockpiling” players. All it’s going to do is allow teams to stockpile those players for one less year.

Most of the stockpiling issue occurs from early recruiting. Teams commit a 14 or 15-year-old player and then retain that commitment until the player reaches 19 or 20, oftentimes pushing back the originally agreed upon date of enrollment. Sometimes, those players are flat out cut before they even enroll at the institution they commit to.

There is a growing concern among coaches that some teams purposely over-recruit, only to select who they actually want down the road, and then drop the other commitments or masking their cuts through the “admissions process.”

The Big 10 legislation doesn’t fix that. At least not entirely. It’s a small step, and that’s it.

Here’s an idea:

If the coaches really wanted to prevent stockpiling and at the same time, eliminate younger recruiting, then let’s pass legislation where teams can’t offer a player until the fall of their junior year. None of this verbally offering a seventh-grader stuff. Fall of junior year, you can begin offering scholarships. At the same time, let’s get the National Letter of Intent people on board, and open the NLI signing period at the same time. Then, let’s keep it open. None of this “signing period” nonsense.

That takes verbal commitments right out of the equation. You can’t offer until fall of junior year, and then you can sign players and put it on paper at the same time.

If you want to solve early recruiting and stockpiling, that’s a much better way to do it. It’s also a more expansive measure, which is why it would likely never come to fruition.

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