The 2014 recruiting cycle saw the implementation of a new rule that put more power into the hands of the players.
For the first time ever, early enrollees were allowed to sign financial aid agreements (FAA) with schools beginning on Aug. 1 of their senior year. Those agreements allowed unlimited contact between the two parties, allowed schools to comment publicly about prospects and bound schools to prospects.
But it didn't bind prospects to schools. As a result, prospects could sign multiple financial aid agreements. Tennessee wide receiver Josh Malone signed agreements with the Vols, Georgia, Florida State and Clemson, according to Michael Carvell of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
According to a new rule interpretation announced on Tuesday by the NCAA following an appeal by the SEC, Georgia, Florida State and Clemson would all be in violation of NCAA rules by publicly commenting on Malone even though he signed agreements with each of them.
As a part of its April meeting, Division I Legislative Council members decided that schools may continue to recruit with relaxed recruiting rules prospects who sign financial aid agreements for mid-year enrollment. But if that prospect does not enroll at the school, the school will be considered in violation of recruiting rules.
The school also must ensure the prospect is already enrolled in all the coursework necessary to graduate from high school at midyear before offering the financial aid agreement.
So essentially, a school could be committing violations that it doesn't know it's committing until after it has already committed them.
On the surface, no.
The only way a school knew if a player had signed another agreement elsewhere would be if that school had announced it or the prospect not only disclosed that information, but the order in which he signed agreements.
But what this does is bring the rule back to its original intention.
Instead of giving players who plan on finishing their coursework early an incentive, teams were signing players to financial aid agreements in order to lift rules limiting contact and creating a free-for-all in recruiting.
This wasn't the goal.
Yes, punishing the school retroactively does seem a bit backwards. But it will, at least in theory, reduce the number of financial aid agreements being offered to prospects simply to open an unlimited contact window. Now, the school has to be 100 percent sure the prospect will enroll.
The punishment will have to fit the crime, and with something like this, a slap on the wrist is about as bad as it could get. But it will still serve as a deterrent, which is something that was needed.
* Barrett Sallee is the lead SEC college football writer for Bleacher Report.
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