AMELIA ISLAND, Fla. — Much of the drama from this week’s ACC spring meetings was gone by the time commissioner John Swofford addressed the media Thursday morning, but that’s not to say he didn’t have a surprise or two left to divulge.
One of those included the ACC recommending an early signing period for college football.
While other sports such as basketball have two signing periods, including one in the fall and one in the spring, football is limited to one signing day in February.
“This is something we’ve supported in previous years,” Swofford said. “Our football coaches and (athletics directors) agreed to again pursue that again and support that going forward.”
Swofford said the recommendation is something handled by the Collegiate Commissioners Association rather than the NCAA. He said he would be raising the issue during the next CCA meeting.
“Our feeling is that it would be a healthy thing for the recruits ... the student-athletes in a sense that it would give them an opportunity to make their decision and fully commit to it and sign and be able to play and study during their senior season without the distraction of the recruiting process, which can be very significant,” he added.
“Our feeling is if a player knows where he wants to go and is ready to make a commitment, then it really enhances the situation for that player first of all and for the institution.”
National Signing Day is usually the first Wednesday in February and recruits must sign their letters by early April.
The ACC is suggesting an early signing period could take place in August.
Miami’s Al Golden and Florida State’s Jimbo Fisher have both said in the past they were in favor of an early signing period.
Others have objected, stating it would put pressure on athletes to make major decisions earlier and lock schools into commitments to recruits before it is clear they will maintain a strong work ethic on the field and in the classroom during their senior season.
Swofford said the league leaders approved a slew of other changes during their spring meetings.
The conference will begin using an eighth official during conference games, observing the same change being made by the Big 12 and SEC. The NCAA Rules Committee will now allow leagues to choose whether to add an eighth official.
That extra official would more than likely be placed in the offensive backfield along with the head referee, according to Swofford.
Swofford said the ACC will experiment with using a 30-second shot clock during basketball exhibition games. He said the league would monitor the results from those games and forward them to the NCAA men’s basketball rules committee.
“Our coaches and ADs both felt that it would be an enhancement to the game,” he said. “Obviously it adds more possessions and would speed up the game.”
Earlier in the week, the league announced that it would be sticking with its current eight-game conference football schedule with the caveat that teams must start scheduling at least one game against teams from the Big Ten, Big 12, SEC or Pac-12 by 2017. Notre Dame, which will play five ACC opponents as part of its partnership with the league, can count toward the league requirement.
The meetings also featured discussion of NCAA governance. Offering athletes unlimited meals and providing stipends to more accurately reflect the true cost of attendance continue to be hot-button topics. While there seemed to be plenty of discussion, there was little in the way of definitive meal rule changes going into effect in August.
“I think a lot of progress has been made since we’ve started,” Swofford said. “I think we are headed toward having a significant level of autonomy.”
As the meetings wrapped, Swofford said he felt the best word to describe these spring meetings was “normal.”
“Normal is a word I haven’t used in this meetings in recent years,” he said.