NCAA Board Eliminates Restrictions on Recruiting Class Sizes and FBS Conference Title Game Requirements

The NCAA Division I board voted on Wednesday to implement a two-year waiver for programs aimed at signing more rookies and removing requirements for FBS conference championship games, allowing conferences to decide for themselves how their teams will be eligible for the competition. The initiatives were automatically approved following the recommendations of the Football Monitoring Committee earlier this month.

The change to the initial scholarship counter is a significant development spurred by roster turnover in the era of the transfer portal. Previously, schools were limited to adding 25 initial scholarship players per year between high school recruits and transfers with some existing gaps. However, in a time when it’s not uncommon for a school to have 20 or more scholarship players entering the portal, the math can get complicated.

Kansas notably dug itself into a deep scholarship hole after Charlie Weis was fired in 2014. When David Beaty took over the program in 2015, the Jayhawks had only 28 spring training scholarship players instead of 85 scholarships authorized.

While the NCAA would remove the restriction for a limited period, teams would still be capped at 85 scholarship players. However, this would pave the way for massive high school recruiting and transfer classes to fill positions during the two-year window.

Removing restrictions for conference title games isn’t as controversial as a move. Previously, conferences of at least 12 members had to decide football champions by dividing into divisions and hosting the winners of each division in a conference championship game. However, eliminating the requirement opens the door to different schedule structures.

Notably, the Big 12 — with 10 members — played a culminating round-robin schedule with the top two teams playing in a conference championship game. Additionally, ACC is explore a 3-5-5 planning model which would feature three consistent common opponents and five opponents who rotate each year. The model would ensure that every four-year-old athlete would play at every school in the conference.

The SEC notoriously has a divisional model with a permanent common opponent, which means teams can go through outrageous times without facing cross-divisional opponents. For example: Texas A&M entered the SEC in 2012 but has only faced Georgia once in a decade. With the SEC set to expand to 16 teams with the addition of Texas and Oklahoma, creating separate eight-team divisions makes little sense for a conference that only plays eight conference games.

The Pac-12, meanwhile, wasted no time in changing its championship play requirements. Minutes after Wednesday’s announcement, the announced league that the teams with the two highest conference winning percentages will compete for the title beginning in the 2022 season.

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