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Syracuse Orange: NCAA to allow unlimited official visits, which is absurd

Syracuse Orange (Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports)
Syracuse Orange (Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports) /
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The NCAA’s Division I Council has adopted new recruiting rules for official visits that will affect the Syracuse Orange and its peers around the country.

I, for one, am not a fan of these changes, and according to this piece from Rivals.com national recruiting director Adam Gorney, I’m not alone in this sentiment. The Division I Council says that beginning on July 1 of this year, high-school prospects “will no longer have a limit to the number of official visits they can make to NCAA member schools.”

Per a press release from the NCAA, high-school players will be limited to one official visit per school, or two if there is a head-coaching change after a prospect has had a first official visit. In men’s hoops, high-school players can continue to take two official visits to the same school, as long as the visits are in different academic years.

In the NCAA’s announcement, Lynda Tealer, who is chair of the Division I Council, said in part, “This was an opportunity to modernize NCAA rules in a way that provides greater and more meaningful opportunities for prospects going through the recruitment process.”

New recruiting rules from the NCAA will impact the Syracuse Orange.

Prior to this change from the Division I Council, high-school players have been able to take five official visits and as many unofficial visits as they want, with the key difference being that the school covers travel costs, meals and other reasonable expenses on official visits.

On the face of it, moving forward, if a high-school prospect is able to score, say, 15 official visits, then I say good for that young man or woman. If that many schools want to bring a high-school player to their campuses on official visits, then that’s a lot of free dinners and the like for that prospect.

But, frankly, is that prospect seriously considering 15 different schools that would reasonably be deemed significant contenders? Probably not. When I cover Syracuse basketball and Syracuse football recruiting, Orange targets absolutely come out with top-10 or top-five lists.

As prospects’ recruitments carry on, though, they probably have a sense of which schools they are deeply interested in, perhaps by taking unofficial visits early on in their recruiting processes. Which means that by the time high-school players are doing official visits in their junior and/or senior years, I would find it hard to believe that they are heavily interested in more than a couple of suitors.

Then again, for the Syracuse Orange, maybe a high-school prospect doesn’t have the ‘Cuse in his or her initial top five. But still, with these new NCAA rules, that high-school player elects to take an official visit to the Hill, and Syracuse Orange coaches wow that prospect, who then ultimately commits to SU.

Maybe under the soon-to-be-obsolete NCAA limits of five official visits, the ‘Cuse wouldn’t have prevailed for that particular prospect. So I can see arguments for and against these new NCAA rules on unlimited official visits.

And I’m not overly sympathetic to the schools from the standpoint that they will likely have to cough up more money to fund more official visits in various sports. For me, though, I just feel like these new NCAA rules on unlimited official visits will end up being a waste of time for schools, coaches, recruiting staffers, high-school prospects and their families, especially in the age of NIL and the transfer portal.

"As Gorney writes, speaking about college football here, “Unofficial visits are fine because colleges don’t have to pay for those. But with this NCAA change, those trips will now be turned into officials, so why wouldn’t more kids go around the country for free and live like kings for a weekend – and then almost always pick another school? Georgia, Alabama, Ohio State, Texas A&M, LSU, USC and Michigan – all the regulars – will still get the top kids. But this ruling will make it challenging for those second-tier teams looking to break through. What about a lower-level Power Five team that has some momentum but now needs to sustain it? Forget it. Wake Forest isn’t beating Clemson for top players – free porterhouse steaks or no free porterhouses. But the gap just widens even further now.”"

When the Rivals.com analyst spoke of a team like Clemson and then second-tier teams, that made me think of our beloved Syracuse Orange. The ‘Cuse, in recent years, hasn’t been able to win out for four-star players, with the squad’s recruiting classes consisting of three-star prospects.

I can’t imagine that unlimited official visits for high-school prospects will greatly benefit Syracuse Orange sports, but then again, I could be way off base here. Although one of Gorney’s sources for his article brings up an intriguing point.

Unlimited official visits “give coaches the ability to say ‘no’ to an official visitor, especially ones they’re pretty certain they have no chance of getting. It might actually provide a little more clarity in that sense if coaches pick and choose their official visitors even more judiciously now.”

If this is the case, that would prove terrific, in my humble opinion. But I also could envision high-school prospects, when making their commitment announcements, not choosing from one of only three hats on the table at their high-school gymnasium, representing his or her three finalists.

With unlimited official visits, maybe high-school players will have a final list of 10, 15 or 20 schools. That’s a lot of hats on a table, and a bit ridiculous, if you ask me. Then again, in this day and age, nothing is going to truly surprise me when it comes to recruiting and collegiate athletics.

Next. Syracuse Orange: Adam Weitsman departing ‘Cuse NIL is a big-time blow. dark