NCAA Looking to Establish Early Signing Period for College Football

Brian LeighFeatured ColumnistMarch 7, 2014

USA Today

Recruiting takes place 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

Players are free to make "verbal" commitments during that extended recruitment period, but national signing day doesn't take place until the February before their final season of high school, prep school or junior college ball.

Soon, that could all change.

According to Mitch Sherman of, the NCAA's associate director of operations, Susan Peal, said the organization is looking into an earlier signing period for college football, similar to the structure of college basketball and other NCAA sports.

"I think everyone wants an early signing period," Peal said. "It's just trying to nail down what's the appropriate date for that."

The addition of an early signing period is not a novel concept, having been discussed in the past by the Conference Commissioners Association but never actually coming to light. It's an idea most people seem to be on board with, but hammering out the details has become a holdup.

Butch Dill/Associated Press

Per Sherman's piece, a loophole in the system, whereby students can sign financial-aid agreements in August of their senior year, has helped accelerate the process and led us to a point where the commissioners have again put the early signing period in discussion.

Peal conceded that, in her opinion, "there's more momentum now than ever" in favor of getting the rule passed.

Of the factors holding back the early signing period, deriving an actual date seems to be the biggest. Peal said most—but not all—coaches she's spoken to are on board with the idea but the logistics of timing have gotten in the way.

The proposal would also, in all likelihood, accelerate the recruitment process by allowing for earlier visits to schools.