During the wildest and most intense offseason in college basketball history, coaches are actively work to change the recruiting calendar moving forward. With the transfer portal and NIL leading to players transferring at record numbers, along with grad transfers not having a deadline to enter the portal, coaches are unable to have the security of a locked in roster during the summer. It’s created an offseason that never ends.
Matt Norlander of CBS broke a two part series this week. On Thursday, part one focused on burnout issues that has college basketball coaches worried about their profession with the current non-stop recruiting cycle that has evolved. On Friday, Norlander spoke to more than two dozen coaches about changes the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) is proposing with the recruiting calendar.
“Men’s college basketball was recently allowed by the NCAA’s Division I Council to be part of a “pilot program” that could, theoretically, empower the sport to govern itself in ways never allowed before. That was overdue. One of the first efforts in this trial period is to overhaul and improve the calendar and how the sport is recruited, mostly from March through August.”
Baylor head coach Scott Drew is at the forefront helping to lead the changes proposed. He told Norlander “You’re not around your family in the summer, it’s the never-ending cycle we’re trying to put an end to.”
The most notable part of the proposal to change the recruiting calendar is reducing how long the transfer portal is open and when it can begin. Coaches want the portal entry period for undergrads to decrease from 60 days to 30 days. As for when it begins, Norlander reported that four options are being considered. This past year, the transfer portal opened immediately following the NCAA Tournament Field of 68 being announced.
Three options include the portal opening the Monday following the first weekend of March Madness, the Monday following the conclusion of the Elite Eight, immediately following the national championship game. The fourth option is to let the entry period begin based on when the season ends for each team, roughly 1-3 days later.
Other proposed changes involve reducing on the road recruiting days from 130 to 100, adding dead periods around major holidays in the spring and summer while also reducing evaluation periods. A dead period restricts in-person contact between coaches and recruits. However, they can still be in communication outside of visits.
One change that speaks to the evolution of the transfer portal is eliminating the April live period for coaches to scout AAU events for high school players. Instead, the month would be focused on roster retention and the transfer portal. Recruiting days would be increased to allow for more visits that recruits can take. This makes a lot of sense and would be a appropriate change considering the new reality in college basketball with the transfer portal.
In terms of live evaluation periods, instead of April having multiple weekends as in the past, that would be eliminated and May would have just one weekend. This would grab the full attention of college coaches and also limit how much they have to be on the road. July would reduce live evaluation days from 10 to 8 and almost double the dead period timeframe. Coaches believe less evaluation periods can lead to better performances from recruits as well by reducing potential fatigue with so many weekends in a row.
A new 14 day dead period in August from the 6th to 20th was already approved. It helps coaches who take teams overseas and allows for an extended recruiting break before the school year begins.
The potential for dead periods to eliminate all contact between coaches and recruits is also being discussed.
Earlier this week on Steve Pikiell’s podcast, he referenced how taxing this offseason has been due to how the recruiting cycle and transfer portal have made roster management a never ending task.
“I would say three or four years ago, May and June were kind of times where at least I knew I was in my own bed at night and I could be home for dinner and that kind of thing. Now, our schedule is completely changed,” Pikiell said. “[I’ll] try to grab some [free] time maybe after our African trip before September – but I love what I do. We’re going to be a good basketball team next year.”
Ultimately, there is a long way to go before recruiting calendar changes are made. The men’s basketball oversight committee (MBOC) must first approve formal changes made by the NABC in September. The next step would be approval from the DI Council in October. For any proposed changes to become official, the Board of Directors would need to approve them at the NCAA convention in January. Any changes approved would go into effect in 2024.
In an offseason in which the transfer portal has dominated recruiting, many of the proposed changes or those under discussion make sense. Reducing the transfer portal period to enter helps with roster management, even though it wouldn’t restrict grad transfers. Giving coaches April to focus on their current team and keeping players on the roster also seems logical. Keeping coaches off the road more and offering scheduled down time is important. It also will increase the spotlight for high school recruits who have been negatively impacted from the transfer portal. Fewer live periods mean coaches will prioritize them more.
It will be interesting to see what changes ultimately get approved. I think this is a necessary change and one that makes sense as recruiting continues to evolve.
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