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October 30, 2013

Freeze pleased with new NCAA legislation

OXFORD, Miss. -- Hugh Freeze said Wednesday he was pleased with five new football recruiting rules passed by the Division I Board of Directors earlier in the day.

The new measures, effective immediately, emerged after months of research into recruiting issues identified by football coaches. The new rules establish a dead period for two weeks in the summer and from the Monday of the week in which mid-year junior college transfers can sign through the Wednesday of the American College Football Coaches convention. This recruiting cycle, that dead period is from Dec. 16 through Jan. 15.

"I voted yes for both dead periods," Freeze said Wednesday following the Rebels' short bye-week practice. "I actually wanted to have the one in the summer a little longer than the one that was passed. …Recruiting is the lifeblood and we got at it as hard as anyone, but I do think the families suffer sometimes. I think the families of the recruits get tired of it because of the way we go about it. We're all so persistent. There's no one bad at it and everyone's going to do everything they can during those times we're allowed to.

"It had gotten to where it was hard to even get off of campus (in the summer) because you're going to get a call, 'Hey this kid's coming. Can you go meet him?' You just never felt you could totally get away from it. It may not be popular to all coaches, but it is to me. For my priorities, I think it fits kind of in line with what I think."

The new rules also allow football student-athletes to participate in mandatory strength and conditioning programs for eight weeks of the summer. The legislation allows eight hours of mandatory work per week and up to two of those eight hours can be used for film review.

"Now, since we do have that time, we can hold them more accountable on the little things that I think really matter, as far as whether it's academics or social things or issues that may arise," Freeze said. "We now have some freedom to be with them and hold them more accountable. I think that's a very sensible rule."

Coaches will no longer be allowed to attend postseason all-star games or activities associated with those games or have in-person contact with prospects participating in those games from the time the recruit arrives at the event until he returns to his home or school. In recent years, the events had become almost mandatory for coaching staffs to attend, turning the lobbies of hotels into recruiting hot spots.

"I don't know that anybody really enjoyed that atmosphere a whole lot and it probably wasn't fair to the families that came to enjoy an all-star experience," Freeze said.

The new legislation also allows schools to pay for meals for up to four family members who could accompany a recruit on an official visit. Before Wednesday's change, schools could pay for the recruit and his parents, legal guardians, spouse or children but not siblings or other family members.

In a release issued Wednesday afternoon, the NCAA said, "Those who recommended the changes believe they will promote a healthy recruiting environment for both recruits and football coaches. They also believe the changes will help protect the integrity of the recruiting process."

Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze meets with media following practice Wednesday.

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