December football signing period gets final OK

Associated Press

High school seniors can now sign football letters of intent in December in addition to the traditional signing period that starts the first Wednesday of February.

The Collegiate Commissioners Association on Monday announced its approval of the new signing period, the last step in the process of implementing a package of reforms passed by the NCAA in April. The CCA administers the national letter of intent and therefore had final say in whether to adopt the early signing period. Approval was expected as some of the conference commissioners were also involved in crafting and pushing for the recruiting reforms.

College football’s first early signing period is scheduled for Dec. 20-22, 2017, coinciding with the first three days of the initial date of the football midyear junior college transfer NLI signing period.

Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh had called the current recruiting calendar “antiquated” and supported the early-signing proposal. Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio had been resigned to the change and worried it could negatively affect senior high school senior football players and their recruitment.

The early letter-of-intent signing period is part of comprehensive legislation that also permits high school juniors to take official visits from April through June and imposes a two-year waiting period before FBS schools can hire people close to recruits to non-coaching positions. The reforms also put restrictions on where and when Division I coaches can participate in summer camps and increases the number of on-field assistants in football from nine to 10, effective in January.