NCF On The Trail: NCAA

The first half of 2013, for the NCAA and president Mark Emmert, rates somewhere between debacle and disaster.

The collegiate governing body has come under fire for an array of topics, from its leadership practices to the mishandling of a high-profile investigation at Miami.

On Thursday, the NCAA cut its losses on another big issue: recruiting deregulation -- the much-publicized elimination of rules on staff sizes, mailing materials and most notably, the control of electronic communication from coaches to recruits.

In the process, the Division I Board of Directors, a group of 18 university presidents, essentially acknowledged its disconnect with the football coaching and administrative populations. If there’s any group with which the NCAA needs to forge a harmonious relationship, it’s football coaches and administrators.

Yet they too often fail to understand each other. Responsibility falls on both sides.

Football coaches, staffers and athletic directors had months to raise a stink over impending legislation that was set to change the face of football recruiting. Yet no one seemed to notice until the board passed the proposals in January.

By then, the presidents were backed into a corner.

They did the only thing they could on Thursday to save face. For that, the NCAA and the board deserve credit. It’s better to have tried and failed than to have continued to attempt to force legislation upon a group of coaches and athletes who want nothing to do with it.

Lost in the buzz over the demise of deregulation Thursday, the board also pulled the plug on controversial legislation -- in the works since October 2011 -- that would have instituted a more stringent sliding test score-to-GPA scale on incoming college freshmen in order to gain initial eligibility.

The board re-emphasized its commitment to academic progress by keeping in place the new 2016 standards that require a higher minimum GPA and core-course progression in high school.

It’s a compromise, a bright moment in these dark few months at the NCAA headquarters. A sign that Emmert and his lieutenants can listen to the membership, make changes and allow all parties to move forward with an understanding of the rules.

Here’s to a future in which recruiting deregulation follows a similar path.

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