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Gators' Mullen wonders if NCAA will permanently change off-campus recruiting

As a second wave of COVID-19 positive test results are being seen across the country, college athletics is again adjusting to the current coronavirus reality.

A major part of that, aside from the pandemic's impact on the actual athletic competitions, is in the world of recruiting. In September, the NCAA announced plans to extend the dead period through the end of 2020.

The NCAA has for months been placing all recruiting in a moratorium; the “dead period.” Now the organization is expected to again extend its most prohibitive recruiting period through the majority of spring 2021. A formal decision is coming from the NCAA Council in the near future.

When asked about the impact of the recruiting restrictions during the SEC teleconference on Wednesday, Florida coach Dan Mullen said these changes could be longterm.

“Maybe the NCAA looks, and says, 'You don't need to go on the road anymore,'” Mullen said.

While Mullen said he believed Zoom calls to prospective student-athletes were an effective method for coaches to communicate with potential players, Mullen also said a prolonged dead period would hinder student-athletes' abilities to make informed decisions on their collegiate futures.

“It's hard for me in a Zoom presentation to show what standing in the middle of the Swamp is like,” Mullen said. “What being down here in Florida in November, December, January and February is like, when it's 75 degrees and palm trees. Getting to walk around the actual beauty of our campus.”

The NCAA addresses the dead period in the following manner in its rules and regulations:

The most restrictive of all the recruiting periods is the NCAA Dead Period. During the dead period, coaches may not have any in-person contact with recruits and/or their parents. In other words, coaches are not allowed to talk to recruits at their college campus, the athlete’s school, an athletic camp or even the grocery store.

While the term “dead period” makes it seem like all recruiting stops during this time, that’s actually not the case. Athletes and coaches are still allowed to communicate via phone, email, social media and other digital communication channels. While NCAA Division 1 programs are prohibited from conducting any in-person recruiting, D1 college coaches can still contact student-athletes via digital forms of communication during the dead period. In this video, we debunk common misconceptions around the NCAA recruiting dead period and contact rules.

In its September release that addressed the dead period extensions in recruiting, the NCAA noted that “the majority of coaches associations also supported an extension of the dead period.”

“You can say, 'I wonder in the future if they ever let the coaches go out again?',” Mullen said. “Budgetarily, maybe that makes sense (for schools to save on their athletics budgets).

“I think we've become efficient [in Zoom calls/presentations], but I don't want to say that makes up for kids coming to see the campus in person.”