NCAA rule could create roadblock for high school coaches

The NCAA is set to vote on a rule that could severely hamper Alabama high school coaches from ascending into the college ranks.  

The purposed rule change, which is slated to be voted on this week, would prevent a college program from hiring a high school coach for an administrative or analyst role if it has recruited a player from the coach’s school in the previous two years.  If the coach were hired, the program would be prohibited from recruiting players from the coach’s high school for two years after the hire.

The rule change, which is part of a comprehensive recruiting reform package, is intended to prevent hires made in a attempt by college programs to gain a edge with recruits.  The rule would also extend to junior college coaches and family members of recruits.  

The proposal’s impact on high school coaches career aspirations have some coaches, including Auburn’s Gus Malzahn, concerned.  

“This rule will, in essence, be a death sentence to any high school coach wanting to coach college football,” Malzahn said.  “It’s putting an end to it and it’s not fair”

Both Malzahn and Alabama’s Nick Saban have regularly dipped into the Alabama high school ranks to fill support positions within their programs.  

Alabama defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt made the jump from his position as a Hoover High School assistant coach to accept an off the field role as the Crimson Tide’s director of player development.  Also, current Auburn offensive coordinator Chip Lindsey originally joined the Tigers program as an offensive analyst from his head coaching position at Hoover’s Spain Park High.  More recently, Auburn hired Opelika Bulldogs head coach Brian Blackmon to an off the field role following the 2016 season

The rule would not prevent college programs from hiring prep coaches to fill on the field positions, however.  Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn’s transition from Sprindale (AR) High School to the University of Arkansas and current UAB head coach Bill Clark’s move from Prattville to South Alabama would have been allowed under the purposed rule.  Both Malzahn and Clark made the jump from successful high school head coaches to Division I coordinators.  

In addition to the proposal affecting high school coaches, the recruiting reform package also includes, the addition of a 10th on field assistant coach, an earlier signing date, and baring high school coaches and others associated with recruits from working at colleges’ summer camps.  

Todd Berry, executive director of the American Football Coaches Association, who’s membership voted to support the overall recruiting reform package, said that the rule change is only a first step and could be tweaked later.  

“This is the most dramatic legislation in my lifetime as a coach,” Berry said.