NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Coaches unanimously support creating an early signing period for college football in December, but the executive director of the American Football Coaches Association says none of them want a third signing day in June.
Todd Berry said Wednesday that coaches are worried the model proposed by the NCAA's football oversight committee that would create two early signing periods in June and December for high school prospects to sign binding national letters of intent changes too much too fast.
The committee's recruiting changes could be approved in April by the NCAA council and could take effect as early as later this year.
"We would like to now start the conversation going about multiple signing days," Berry said at a news conference. "This is something that we have never come to agreement on, and we're ready to take that step.
Berry said coaches understand the current model is "archaic" with student-athletes and both high school and college coaches wanting more flexibility and earlier signing periods. He also said many high school athletes enter college after concluding their senior seasons.
"We think this is the least intrusive to the current model and allows for the best study because this is the biggest step," Berry said. "What is a multiple signing date going to do to the recruiting date? This is the biggest step of all. We need to evaluate that."
That is why the coaches unanimously agreed to recommend an additional signing day on the third Wednesday in December, currently the mid-year signing day for junior college student-athletes with no limitations. The signing date also needs approval from the Collegiate Commissioners Associate, which administers the national letter of intent.
"There are still a lot of concerns with the model that is being proposed, and I think everybody that was a part of that model would say that we recognize there was going to be some holes in the model," Berry said. "As coaches, we don't think that's fair to the student-athletes to put them through an experiment."
Berry said support for the December signing day was unanimous. He spoke at a news conference after a meeting of Football Bowl Subdivision coaches on the final day of the AFCA convention. Berry is a non-voting member of the oversight committee and said he will be lobbying members when that committee meets next week at the annual NCAA convention in Nashville.
The committee's proposal includes a June signing day as well. Berry said there was "zero" support for that date among coaches at all levels.
What effect a signing day in December would have on the traditional national signing day on the first Wednesday of February also would have to be examined, which Berry said is why coaches want to add only one more signing period. Adding a date in June also might prompt high school athletes to forego their senior seasons to protect themselves for college.
"We'll put it in their court, and see where they want to go with it," Berry said of the oversight committee.
Other topics discussed by AFCA coaches included:
— They support limiting camps to a window of the first three weeks in June and the last week of July with an increased dead period covering the final week of June and first three weeks of July.
— Berry said the coaches condemned college games on Friday nights, hoping to protect high school football the way the NFL has in not playing games on Saturdays until December.
— The coaches also support the proposal adding a 10th coach to football staffs.
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