Duke coach Kerstin Kimel was the chair of the IWLCA's recruiting issues committee, helping develop and submit the proposal.

Coaches React to the Passing of Early Recruiting Legislation

It’s been a little over 24 hours since news broke that the NCAA Division I Council passed Proposal 2016-26, which prohibits college lacrosse coaches from communicating with prospective student-athletes until Sept. 1 of their junior year of high school. In addition, the IWLCA officials confirmed Saturday that the legislation is effective immediately, after it was labeled “noncontroversial” by the NCAA Board of Governors.

The proposal, developed by the IWLCA and submitted jointly with the IMLCA, was aimed at curbing the early recruiting trend which saw players commiting to college programs as early as eighth grade. The proposal was a result of years of work by the the IMCLA and IWCLA’s NCAA Division I legislation committee, but the reaction was instant. Just hours passed and many of the game's biggest names were speaking out on a decision that influences coaches, players and families across the country.

"I'm pleasantly surprised,” Virginia coach Lars Tiffany said. “I didn't think that the NCAA would have the courage to pass a piece of legislation that is drastically different from the current state of affairs and is not easy to enforce. … For the family, this is a win-win. It takes all the pressure off the table.”

“It restores some of my faith in the NCAA. ... We coaches have an avenue to enact change in our sport that is meaningful and impactful.” - Kerstin Kimel

Many coaches were active in the efforts, helping the IWLCA and IMCLA to put together legislation and submit it to the NCAA.

“It restores some of my faith in the NCAA,” said Duke women’s coach Kerstin Kimel, chair of the IWLCA's recruiting issues committee. “We’re not football or basketball or a money-generating sport, but we have legitimate problems that we needed address. … We coaches have an avenue to enact change in our sport that is meaningful and impactful.”

Kimel and Penn women’s coach Karin Corbett spearheaded a three-year effort to develop the legislation, working with members of IWLCA to get it submitted to the NCAA legislative committee last year. Members of the committee lobbied via texts and emails to get the NCAA’s attention.

George Washington coach Tracy Coyne, another member of the NCAA Division I legislative committee, saw the decision as a no-brainer in the current climate of recruiting.

“What was happening wasn't necessary,” she said. “I am so happy and thankful that the NCAA listened. … Five or 10 years from now, we’re going to look at this and say ‘Why did we ever go down a road where there was so much insanity, where there was an arms race to commit your child to a school in the eighth or ninth grade?’”

Penn men’s coach Mike Murphy remembered a time when former Virginia coach Dom Starsia submitted a similar proposal. It came in 2008, when the NCAA was in the midst of conference realignment.

That proposal was not heard on the NCAA legislative cycle, but that didn’t stop those involved from submitting a new proposal years later. Murphy said the decision will help players continue to develop physically and mentally before making a decision on a college.

“We know young kids, boys and girls in the eighth or ninth grade are just not as emotionally mature as they are when they are in 11th and 12th grade,” he said. “It would be hard to say early recruiting is better for making decisions. [The legislation] help them eventually, in terms of figuring out what kind of students they are, what kind of athletes they are and be able to gauge the right fit.”

Tiffany agreed with Murphy, adding that players in eighth and ninth grade will not have to worry about finding the right “venue” to be seen under the new rules. He did suggest, however, that the importance of middle-men like club coaches will be magnified.

“Us college coaches are going to be calling those people, saying, ‘Hey, I heard about your really talented ninth- grader,’” he said. “‘Tell me about him.’ You can only imagine where the conversation goes from there.”


Penn's Mike Murphy, vice president of the IMLCA, said the new rule will help players mature before making a college decision.

Kimel and Coyne both forecasted that now, middle and high school players won’t have to feel guilty about taking time away from the game, especially during the summer.

“In my mind, it’s going to help kid be kids for longer,” Kimel said. “They can feel like they can put sticks down for a few weeks a year and play multiple sports. Families can go on vacation and not feel like they are beholden to a club schedule. … This is going to help the culture of our sport tremendously.”

Coyne used her former Notre Dame program as an example of building a team without recruiting early. She’s confident the coaches can overcome any perceived challenges brought by waiting until Sept. 1 of players’ junior year.

“There really isn’t any reason we can’t go back to that,” she said. “You can build a successful program and make good recruiting decisions by taking your time and getting to know the player and watch them develop.”

Fans, coaches and players took to social media to share their views on the passing of Proposal 2016-26. Here’s just a sample of the reaction.

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