The 2018 AFCA Convention officially closed down on Wednesday, and the last event on the docket was executive director Todd Berry's press conference. After meeting with the AFCA's Board of Directors, Berry outlined the organization's legislative agenda ahead of the NCAA Convention next week in Indianapolis.
Here were the highlights.
- Coaches don't want to see the transfer rules changed. There is a proposal out there to give athletes a one-time transfer exemption, where a player could go from an FBS school to another FBS school without sitting out a year. The AFCA is against this. "The school that you're going to, that's really important to you. It's not just about football, this is about the university," Berry said. "We also looked at some of these places where they have open transfers -- the state of Florida, the state of Georgia -- where they can go from high school to high school to high school and what has happened in those states. I think we need to learn from some of those things instead of just closing our eyes and saying, 'Let's try it and see what happens.' Sometimes that leads to a lot of problems."
There's no way to say this: this did not go over well outside of the AFCA.
Put simply, coaches ability to leave a job and work immediately -- and getting paid six, seven or even eight figures to do so -- while unpaid athletes do not have the ability to do the same does not poll well externally. Here's how Berry rebutted that argument later in the press conference.
"You'd like to think that student-athlete is coming to the university because he loves that university and he wants to get an education from there. Coaches, professors, librarians, they come not necessarily because they love the university, because they're paying them. It's their job. The other thing is: when coaches leave, they don't get to leave for free. I leave and I go to XYZ school, generally I owe X million dollars back to the university I just left."
Changing the undergraduate transfer rules has been a long, studied issue across the NCAA, and it's a change that a simple foot-stomping from the AFCA may not be able to prevent.
- Coaches remain in favor of the graduate transfer rule. "They've fulfilled their requirements, they did what they came here to do," said Berry. "We really have no problem with them transferring because they've fulfilled that requirement."
- The AFCA would like some flexibility in how coaches can run training camp. Whether it be stretching the schedule from 25 to 29 or perhaps 33 days or allowing coaches to have non-contact meetings on mandatory off days, Berry said coaches would like to see the NCAA loosen things up here.
- The AFCA really, really wants to see the redshirt rule changed. Coaches would like to see players be allowed to play in up to four games and still take a redshirt. Berry said this vote has been unanimous across all levels two years in a row, which never happens. "This needs to pass and it needs to pass right now," Berry said.
- Coaches liked the new rules limiting camps to two 10-day periods. "For the most part our group was very excited about this," Berry said. "The student-athletes we talked to were very excited about this because they didn't feel like they had to spend the money to go to 35 camps when they could go to less camps, see more coaches and actually talk to them about their universities."
- The AFCA liked the new IAWP rule. This rule, borrowed from basketball, prohibits a college staff that hired a high school coach from recruiting that school for four years -- provided the high school coach was hired to an off-the-field role.
- The AFCA does not like recruits being able to take spring official visits. "We think it's too early, it's too long," Berry said. "A young person could conceivably take all five visits (in the spring) but just because you take an official visit doesn't mean you have an offer."
"We think there's too many problems with this to move forward until there's a better way," he added.
- Coaches want more restrictions on when they -- and, really, their peers -- can contact recruits. "I think there's a perception sometime out there that our coaches just don't want any rules," Berry said. "It is totally the opposite of that. Our coaches want rules, and then they want everybody to play by those rules. If somebody doesn't play by those rules, they want them banned from football for life. If you polled coaches, they would be that aggressive. They'd say, 'If you break a rule, there better be major, major consequences.' It was the AFCA that made it the head coach's responsibility (if an assistant breaks a rule). That wasn't the NCAA. I was on the board that proposed that."
The reason coaches can't have lives in the offseason is because if they pass up a recruiting opportunity afforded by the rulebook, their competition won't. So they'd rather see a cinched up rulebook and their peers forced to follow it.
- Coaches want walk-ons to be eligible for a scholarship after one year in the program. I'll be honest here, I didn't know this wasn't already the case. "If you've got to stay two years before you can (be on scholarship), that's not rewarding that person who showed up, worked hard, stepped up on the field and provided for the team, and they can't give you a scholarship? That's not fair to these kids," Berry said.
- The AFCA "has concerns" about targeting. Coaches don't want to see the rule eliminated, but they believe it has created an unintended consequence that has led to more leg injuries for ball-carriers.