Changes to the NCAA rulebook

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The NCAA made some pretty significant changes to their rulebook today. Since we al love bullet points:

– Conferences are allowed to vote to add $2,000 worth of full cost-of-attendance money to their scholarship offers.

– Schools are now allowed to offer multi-year scholarships. Previously, they were offered on a one-year, renewable basis.

-The APR cutline has been increased from an average score of 900 over four years to 930. Schools that fail to qualify will be ineligible for the NCAA Tournament.

– The minimum GPA for incoming freshmen will now be 2.3, while it will increase to 2.5 for JuCo transfers.

-There are a slew of new recruiting rules, including the deregulation of text messaging and a change in the summer recruiting schedule, reducing the July live period to 12 days and bringing back a live period in April.

– Coaches will be allowed to work with their players during the summer, although the precise details of how that will work have yet to be determined.

– Financial aid will now be available to former athletes who decide to return to school to finish their degree once their eligibility has been used up.

Overall, these changes are a step in the right direction for the NCAA, who entire release can be found here.

I’m not going to go into too much detail here — especially on the recruiting front, as we touched on these changes last week — but there are some details that need to be highlighted.

First and foremost, UConn. The Huskies are the reigning national champions. There is a very real chance that they will be able to repeat this year. But the way the current rules are written, UConn will be ineligible to compete in the 2013 NCAA Tournament. Per the AP, UConn’s APR score in 2009-2010 was 826. The school is projecting that score to be 975 for 2010-2011. That gives them a two-year average of 900.5 and a four-year average of 888.5. To qualify for the 2013 NCAA Tournament, the Huskies would need a two-year score of 930 or a four-year score of 900.

That fate is not set in stone just yet. The Hartford Courant’s Don Amore, the Husky beat writer, speculated on Monday that there will be some form of an improvement waiver, where schools that don’t qualify for the new standards can prove they are getting better and redeem their eligibility. As Mark Emmert said, “We need to act with some dispatch.”

The other change worth noting here is the approval of multi-year scholarship offers. While its effect will likely be seen more in football, where over-recruiting has become an epidemic, this should even up the field a bit when it comes to recruiting. It won’t make much difference for the guys that are on the all-american level, as every school in the country will be offering them four-year scholarships. But it will make a difference for some of the players that are talented enough to be recruited by, but not necessarily play, the best programs in the country.

The way the system currently works is that a coach can run-off a player after a year or two if that player has underperformed expectations. Since his scholarship is renewable annually, the coach can simply tell the kid his scholarship won’t be renewed and he will have to transfer. But a lesser program will be able to offer that player a four-year scholarship, ensuring that he won’t be in danger of dealing with a forced transfer.

An example? Its early May, and a three-star center has his options down to Washington and St. Mary’s. Washington may have a scholarship available and a need for depth in the front court, if for nothing more than to have a body available for practice. The player can accept the scholarship from the Huskies and hope he doesn’t get recruited over, or he can choose to go to St. Mary’s, where he knows he will be playing for a team that will be in and around the top 25 and will be guaranteed a full-ride for four years.

The big schools won’t necessarily be hurt, but it will only be helpful for the mid-majors looking to bring in high-major talent.

I just look forward to hearing about how recruit sign a four-year deal.

Because its all just a business transaction, right?

Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @ballinisahabit.