Recruiting Summit Spurs Promising TalksColumns
Some of the nation’s premier college baseball head coaches are getting proactive on the recruiting front, and that much is clear when you consider the power in the room when 16 coaches met in Charlotte this week for the American Baseball Coaches Association’s Recruiting Summit.
Plenty of topics were on the table at the day-long meeting. Obviously, any issue pertaining to recruiting was discussed, including the timing of dead periods, official and unofficial visits and more. However, the hottest topic of discussion pertained to early recruiting, how it has and continues to affect the sport and what changes could be made to curtail it.
With the health of the sport as a whole in mind, the ABCA put together a diverse group of coaches from different conferences and regions of the country. The results were promising, as ABCA Executive Director Craig Keilitz and TCU coach Jim Schlossnagle praised the group’s work.
“I couldn’t be any prouder of the way the group came together, because we put together a very diverse group of coaches from the North, South, East, West, power schools and non-power schools alike,” Keilitz said. “The amount of homework and preparation that the coaches did prior to the meeting was outstanding. I think we had a few coaches who came into the meeting wondering if we needed to change anything.”
Meanwhile, Schlossnagle was extra pleased with some of the progress made. He said that every coach had the greater good of the sport in mind – not just the overall well-being of their respective programs.
“I thought we had an outstanding representation of coaches from both colder and warmer weather climates as well as coaches from inside and outside the Power Five conferences. Every single voice was heard,” he said. “We approached this meeting with the guiding light that we were going to do what is best for our current student-athletes and our coaches, and it was great to see the coaches put aside their own individual programs and truly evaluate what was in the best interest of those two groups, as well as consider the needs of the prospective student athlete as well.
“We spent an enormous amount of time on many issues surrounding the recruiting calendar and each coach came into the room with extremely varied opinions,” he continued. “Yet, but the end of the day, the votes that we took came out either unanimous or extremely close to unanimous.”
One of the more pressing concerns from coaches in our sport as of late has been the recruitment and commitment of some prospects, some as young as eighth grade. At the moment, there are no sure-fire ways to prevent that from happening, and the group isn’t prepared to move until the NCAA makes some legislative decisions.
For instance, it’s likely the NCAA will approve two changes in the recruiting process: Currently, prospects can’t make official visits until their senior year. On the flip side, a prospect may unofficially visit at any time. Under rules the NCAA is expected to pass in early 2018, prospects wouldn’t be allowed to make unofficial visits until September 1 of their sophomore year, while official visits could be taken as early as their junior year.
“I don’t think anyone in the room liked the direction and timing that today’s recruiting culture has become,” Schlossnagle said. “We discussed a variety of options for a very long time and there was some great debate. In the end, because the NCAA just sent out a proposal that will affect most sports, we decided to table those discussions until we knew exactly what we were going to be dealing with from the NCAA.”
While we’ll see the end result from the NCAA, Schlossnagle added that a vast majority of the group werewhole-heartedly against the idea of allowing official visits as a junior, citing cost and other concerns. Meanwhile, he said that about half of the group was for the September 1 (as a sophomore) date for unofficial visits, while the other half wanted the date pushed back a full year into the junior campaign.”
Recruiting calendars were another hot topic of discussion. While Keilitz and Schlossnagle were unable to go into too much detail about the proposed plans because they want coaches to be aware and surveyed first, the ideas discussed centered around recruiting periods in the fall and summer – particularly a shorter fall period and a smaller dead period at the beginning of the College World Series.
“I think the calendar we came up with will be the best and most effective one that allows our coaches to maximize recruiting opportunities while also having some work/life balance,” Schlossnagle said. “It also allows them to truly commit to serving our current student athletes and their development.”
After this meeting between many of the nation’s premier coaches, the ABCA will now survey coaches and continue the dialogue at the annual ABCA Convention in Indianapolis next month.
Nothing is for certain at this point, but kudos to the coaches for being proactive.
Recruiting Summit Coaches
Jim Schlossnagle — TCU
Josh Holliday — Oklahoma State
Tim Corbin — Vanderbilt
Kevin O’Sullivan — Florida
Eric Bakich — Michigan
Andrew Checketts — UC Santa Barbara
Brian Green — New Mexico State
Mark Martinez — San Diego State
Craig Cozart — High Point
Chris Pollard — Duke
John McCormack — Florida Atlantic
Rick Heller — Iowa
Rich Maloney — Ball State
Dan McDonnell — Louisville
John Savage — UCLA
Ed Blankmeyer — St. John’s