As reported by Jon Solomon of The Birmingham News, NCAA officials have established a working group whose purpose is to review the existing rulebook and identify ways of slimming it down into something more "sensible".
Along with discarding some of the minor rules that perhaps never should have been included, officials are also targeting a few major rules. For instance, the new rules may allow academic transfers to play sports immediately following said transfer, as long as such a move does not delay their graduation date. Currently, student athletes must attend the new institution for one year prior to suiting up in most cases.
Another major regulation change being considered is the 1991 rule banning schools from establishing special dorms for student athletes. This rule, if changed or removed, could allow universities to once again establish their own policies regarding the housing of athletes. Finally, officials are considering a change to the rule that bans coaches from talking publicly about their recruiting activities. If this alteration goes through, coaches and their recruiting staff will be able to openly discuss the names of recruits they are targeting.
As an Auburn Tigers fan, and a fan of college football in general, I welcome any change that involves a reduction to the NCAA's colossal rulebook. I personally feel that the organization has become unnecessarily bloated and overbearing, and often conducts itself in a manner that seems more political than objective. As such, trimming down the rulebook and reversing some of the decisions made in the past could help simplify the regulatory process and bring college sports a back toward the sense amateurism it has lost over the years.
In particular, I am happy with the changes to rules on recruiting and student-athlete housing. The ability for coaches to talk openly about their prospects will offer some much-needed transparency to the recruiting process and possibly help mitigate some of the corruption that often occurs in the background. Also, the change to the rule banning schools from allocating special dorms for student-athletes may give coaches the extra edge they need to control younger athletes who too often get themselves into trouble. A specialized dorm in which food and other services are provided may very well create the sort of structured environment necessary to keep everyone a little more honest. Improved living conditions may even offer the incentive needed to keep poorer students in school through their senior year, rather than seeking an early professional career in order to improve their financial situation.
Only time will tell if the proposed changes make it through the committee or if they have the desired impact, but perhaps we college fans will have the pleasure of watching one of our favorite sports take a few steps back toward simpler times.
Christopher Brown is an avid, almost rabid college football fan. More importantly, he is a fan of the Auburn Tigers, a team that always seems to provide its fans with an unpredictable and even frustrating roller-coaster ride.