Eliah Drinkwitz isn’t sure where he’d be now if he hadn’t been plucked a few years back from the high school ranks.
“Somewhere in Arkansas trying to coach a little football,” he said.
Instead, a job at Auburn — offensive analyst, $16,000 a year without benefits — became his entrée to college football, leading eventually to his current position as North Carolina State’s offensive coordinator. It’s why Drinkwitz is opposed to a proposed NCAA rule that would practically prohibit — or at least significantly curtail — hiring high school coaches for support roles in college football programs.
The proposal, part of a comprehensive recruiting reform package to be considered this week by the NCAA’s Division I Council, is an attempt to prevent hires made in hopes of gaining an edge with recruits who are associated with the new employee. It applies to “individuals associated with a prospect” (IAWP); along with high school coaches, it would apply to junior college coaches, as well as others such as family members of recruits. It would mirror a rule already in place for NCAA basketball.
But it’s the potential impact on high school coaches’ career aspirations that has some coaches up in arms.
“This rule will in essence be a death sentence to any high school coach wanting to coach college (football),” Auburn coach Gus Malzahn said. “It’s putting an end to it, and it’s not fair.”
A college would be prevented from hiring a high school coach for a support role if it had recruited a player from his school in the previous two years and would be prohibited from recruiting players from that high school for two years after the hire.
The practice of hiring to gain a recruiting advantage is more prevalent in college basketball than in football. But the recent proliferation of off-field support positions at the higher levels of FBS football programs has led to concern it could become a trend in football, as well.