End The Complexity: Recruiting and Taxes

Gary BrownCorrespondent IIDecember 29, 2009

TAMPA, FL - NOVEMBER 28: Defensive end Derrick Morgan #91 of the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets checks with coaches against the Clemson Tigers in the 2009 ACC Football Championship Game December 5, 2009 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida.  (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)
Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

In just a few days, the calendar will flip over, and we will be in 2010. While you have been trying not to think about this change, it means that you will soon have two areas of life that consume you and are way more complicated than they need to be.

First and most important to your local politicians is the preparation and payment of your taxes. Second and much more critical to you is the annual college football signing day anxiety. One causes you to lose sleep over concerns that you might receive notice from the local IRS auditor wanting to know more about that trip you took to Paris last year and how it relates to your business. The latter somehow validates the credibility of your favorite college team.

What we wonder at College Sports Matchups is why both of these have to be so complicated. There is no reason why recruiting and taxes should not be easy without causing near the level of anxiety they do. We also believe they both can be fixed. We will start with the more boring of the two and keep it real short because we know you would rather talk football than taxes.

Get rid of the current tax code and go to a single flat tax. Everyone pays. EVERYONE. No exceptions. There are no deductions for any reason. Your tax form is less than half of a page. It asks you to simply tell how much income you had, attach the documentation for it, and then provide a place to complete the simple calculation for what you owe.

The legions of accountants, lawyers, and government employee unions that thrive financially on the current system will object. Count on the ruling class to have issues as well, as they like a difficult tax system so that you can’t easily figure out just how much you owe. The upside comes for scores of taxpayers who will rejoice at how much easier it is to pay their fair share.

Now on to college recruiting. Have you ever looked at the rules for recruiting college athletes? The NCAA rule book that schools must comply with is over 400 pages long and is about as interesting to read as the tax code. What is the result of all of these rules? Individual schools rack up numerous secondary violations that are reported each year, which results in hundreds of these indiscretions that range from the “stupid mistake” category to the “we are fudging just a little” column.

In compliance office circles, it is even acknowledged that the refusal or inability to turn in a few of these small offenses each year can make the NCAA suspicious of a school’s internal auditing. Think about it: The NCAA has created a system that forces members to self-report violations so they can know the rules are being followed. The whole system sounds like something created by the IRS.

Here are two opinions about any system of rules: First, whenever you can’t help but break the rules or can't follow the contradictory elements within them, the system has become too complex. Second, when something is already too complex, the key is not to add more complexity, but to simplify.

So how do we simplify the current process schools and prospects endure to achieve the annual harvest of student-athletes? Here are a few ideas to get the conversation started.


  • Any prospective student-athlete must be academically qualified to be offered a scholarship to a school.
  • All scholarship offers must be in writing.
  • Schools may not over sign classes in anticipation of losses for various reasons.
  • Allow schools to sign a student-athlete at any time they choose. The scholarship cannot be revoked.
  • Once a coach offers a scholarship to a player, they have to cease contact with that prospective student-athlete.
  • Once a prospective student athlete makes an announcement of a commitment to a school, all others must cease contact with him and cannot offer him a scholarship in the future.
  • Athletes may visit a campus only once due to athletic related purposes. All subsequent visits must be coordinated with the admission office of the university and may not include game tickets or interaction with athletic department staff in any manner. Visits must meet the criteria of visits experienced by all students considering the school for general admission.
  • Representatives of an institution’s athletic interest may only visit a prospect’s home once.
  • Representatives of an institution’s athletic interest may only visit with a player on their campus once.
  • Any recruiting efforts made by athletic boosters of a university will result in the ineligibility of a student-athlete for participation at the institution.  
  • Violation of the rules will result in significant and immediate penalties.

The simplification of the rules to these basics will result in a reduction of the draining time coaches use to recruit players, a reduction in expenses incurred by schools to woo prospective athletes, and fewer interruptions in the lives of the student-athletes who should go through their college decision much the same way that other students do. Another by-product of this rule simplification will be the creation of a more level playing field for schools that do not have large budgets for recruiting.

So who will be opposed to this idea? Websites and newsletters devoted to recruiting, schools that have significant budgets for recruiting, high school coaches that like to rub elbows with college coaches constantly, and elite players who enjoy the constant attention of the recruiting trifecta (media, fans, and coaches). Who will be a fan of the new rules? Parents who want their kids to have a normal life, high school coaches who are looking for fewer distractions for their teams, and college coaches that would like to see the current process made better.

So will we see the NCAA throw out the current complex way of handling recruits and move toward something that can be accomplished with a single sheet of paper? We probably have a better chance of a simplified tax code, and don’t bet on either occurring in this life. You should probably plan for just the opposite, because what governing bodies tend to do when things become too complex is create more rules.