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Michael Carvell

NCAA looks at early signing period for football

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College football is considering an early signing period and could vote on it as early as June,

“I think everyone wants an early signing period,” the NCAA’s Susan Peal told ESPN’s Mitch Sherman. “It’s just trying to nail down what’s the appropriate date for that.”

Every college sport except for football allows high school athletes to sign at the beginning of their senior year of school. Football’s signing day is every February.

Peal said the Conference Commissioners Association (CCA) will meet in June to review an agenda that includes discussion of the early signing period (However, it must be noted that this topic has been discussed extensively in past years).

Also, the NCAA has closed the loophole – sort of  — with senior prospects signing financial-aid agreements with multiple schools.

This past year, a new NCAA interpretation allowed seniors who were approved for early enrollment to sign financial-aid agreements (not the same as a letter of intent and non-binding) with multiple colleges. In return, the colleges could comment publicly on the student-athlete and basically have “unlimited” communication, including personal contact.

For example, wide receiver Josh Malone of Gallatin, Tenn., signed financial-aid agreements with UGA, Tennessee, Clemson and Florida State – which permitted all four schools to have “unlimited” contact with Malone until he signed a letter of intent with the Volunteers.

Under new NCAA rules, only the college that first signs the prospect can have “unlimited” contact and publicize the recruit.

Here’s where it gets really interesting: How will the NCAA know which college signed a recruit first? “The organization plans to leave it largely up to the recruiting media to sort it out,” wrote ESPN, which also (correctly) noted, “Sounds like a controversy waiting to happen.”

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