AFCA director Todd Berry: We have to get IAWP trend under control

Posted by: Chris Vannini on Wednesday April 12, 2017


College football could undergo major changes later this week, but there’s one issue that may divide coaches more than any other.

The NCAA Division I Council will vote on a major package that includes a 10th full-time assistant, an early signing period and restrictions on satellite camps — all of which have approval from most coaches. But restrictions on hiring Individuals Associated With a Prospect to non-coaching jobs has drawn mixed opinions.

The rule would be similar to a basketball rule. Coaches can hire someone who has a relationship with a prospect to full-time coaching job, but if it’s an off-field job, the program cannot recruit from that high school for two years before enrollment of a prospect and two years after.

Gus Malzahn called it a “death sentence” to high school coaches who want to move to college — Malzahn has hired several high school coaches to off-field roles in his career who later became full-time. But Malzahn himself was hired from high school to college as a full-time coach at Arkansas in 2006, and that what AFCA executive director Todd Berry pointed to in an interview on ESPN 1660 in Waco.

“Our board of trustees, six years ago, started looking at this, knowing we were having a growing problem, potentially,” Berry said. “Obviously there’s some temptation in hiring someone in a support role that has some association with a prospect and their employment basically assists in recruiting that individual. With the burgeoning number of support staff that we’re seeing across the country, our board looked at this years ago and said we have an oncoming problem. Unfortunately — again I don’t know that it’s rampant — but we are seeing a trend that all of us would like to stay away from.

“Basketball, even though it’s a different sport with different recruiting thoughts, the reality is they’ve been utilizing this in NCAA basketball for a couple years now. So we looked at that model and said, ‘Is this going to help solve some of our problems in relation to this?’ And we felt like this was a good step.”

RELATED: How schools have prepared for a 10th assistant coach

Malzahn and Chad Morris have spoken out against it. Nick Saban is furious over what it'll do to camps. But CoachingSearch also spoke with several coaches who are for it, most at the Group of 5 level or lower Power 5, without large support staffs.

“I think it’s a good idea,” new Western Kentucky head coach Mike Sanford told CoachingSearch. “That’s gotten out of control, it really has. If you really want to hire that coach and the value of getting the coach on the staff, then chose the coach over the recruit. If you do truly just want to get a recruit, then abide by that rule."

Many high school coaches are not happy about it, because it limits their opportunities to move up to college — opportunities that didn’t really exist a decade ago. Berry knows it’s hard for the high school coaches, but also pointed to the ones who made the move up.

“If you hire a guy as a full-time coach, as many of these guys were — Gus Malzahn, Chad Morris and so-on — then they’re not going to be impacted at all,” Berry said. “It’s really all these different support positions. Analysts, directors of all these different things we have directors of nowadays. Sometimes there’s even these curious titles that you wonder why in the world would you even need something like that. I think that’s where the concern is.

“We want guys that have demonstrated abilities to be able to continue to do that and have that opportunity to showcase it at a higher level, so to speak. It doesn’t keep you from being able to hire a high school coach into a full-time role. What it does is keeps you from not only hiring a high school coach, but a prospective student-athlete’s uncle or his best friend’s dad or any of those other entities that are out there that might influence a decision of a prospect.”

All of these proposals are in one big package. The purpose is to get it all passed at once. Berry worries that if gets split up, it will create a bunch of problems worth considering. The vote comes this week.

“Each one interacts with the other,” he said. “My fear is, if for whatever reason, the package is broken up, then there will be unintended consequences if one passes and one doesn’t, because they are inter-related. … Separating these could have unintended consequences on another package.”

Chris Vannini is in his fifth year with CoachingSearch.com and serves as its managing editor. He has previously written for the Detroit Free Press, The Oakland Press, The State News, MLive.com, 247Sports and SB Nation.  A graduate of Michigan State University, Chris now lives in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.  Be sure to follow @coachingsearch and send emails to chris@coachingsearch.com.