NCAA Football

Middle-School Recruiting Pandora’s Box About to Be Opened by NCAA?

According to the organization’s website, the National Collegiate Athletic Association has begun to consider allowing Division I coaches to reach out to prospective 8th grade recruits to notify them of expected high school academic standards that will ensure their eligibility.

From Kevin Lennon, NCAA vice president for academic and membership affairs:

In suggesting the loosening of rules, the committee put recruiting concerns aside (Note: yeah, you bet) and came together as educators for the good of all student-athletes.

Of course, some parameters will be in place. The committee wants to make as many student-athletes as possible aware of what’s expected of them.

The earlier these students know the expectations, the more prepared they can be academically and the more successful they can be in college.

Oh yes, it’s all about academics.

Everyone ready for the Pandora’s Box of middle-school college football recruiting to be opened?

Well, guess what, your wish could soon be granted.

With multiple recruiting services popping up all over the Internet which specialize in evaluating talent as young as 5th graders– yes, you read that correctly–there are plenty of eyeballs firmly fixed on middle-schoolers.

This is hardly a secret.

In fact, some programs have even begun to offer non-binding, non-committable offers to 8th graders in what comes off as an unbelievably desperate and short-sighted measure to beat the competition to the punch.

Allowing coaches full access to potential 8th grade recruits for to “educate them about academic expectations” (**wink wink**), the NCAA will have created a portal to a new recruiting dimension.

Division I programs with substantial recruiting budgets are just waiting for such a loophole to become available– a loophole which will be readily exploited– to extend their footprint and get in front of young talent sooner than ever.

The NCAA never does anything without pressure from the stakeholders that continue to ensure the organization’s long-term sustainability, namely Athletic Directors and coaches of revenue-producing programs.

The noise from these stakeholders has obviously become loud enough that the NCAA’s hand has been forced, and they are starting to veil potential access to eighth graders under the guise of an academic concern.

It’s hardly a new practice.

Don’t believe for one minute the NCAA has these kids’ best interests at heart.

After all, Johnny Eighth Grader can’t turn them a profit.

Not yet, anyway.

Kris Hughes is the College Football Network Manager for Rant Sports and a member of the Football Writers Association of America.

You can follow him on Twitter or check out his Facebook page.

Kris is also the host of Rant Sports Radio on the Blog Talk Radio Network Wednesday evenings at 8 Central Time.