Editor’s note: USA TODAY High School Sports reporter Jim Halley held a roundtable discussion with the parents of three of the nation’s top five recruits: Terry Lacy-Little, the mother of Ole Miss commit Greg Little, an offensive tackle from Allen, Texas; Tony Eason, the father of Lake Stevens, Wash., quarterback Jacob Eason, an early enrollee at Georgia; and Jennifer Coney, the mother of Rashan Gary, a defensive tackle from Paramus Catholic (Paramus, N.J.), who is expected to announce his college choice next week on signing day. All are American Family Insurance ALL-USA selections. Gary was named ALL-USA Defensive Player of the Year and Eason was ALL-USA Offensive Player of the Year. The discussion covered several hot topics regarding recruiting and the recruiting process.
Here is Part 3 of the discussion: What would you change in the recruiting rules for football?
Lacy-Little: The one rule I would change would be that the schools could pay, on official visits for the parents’ air fare to go visit the school. They (colleges) pay for the kids, they won’t pay for the parent. I think that’s crazy. They pay for everything else. To have a kid come to an official visit without a parent makes no sense. The parent has to be on that visit. We had to pay on our own dime and you’re talking five visits, after the football season, from December to February. Now, you’re trying to take five visits and that becomes expensive for a family to go on five visits. They should allow kids to visit during their junior year. I think the rule needs to be tweaked. You’re trying to make official visits in such a short time frame. I think it would be helpful if (athletes) could visit schools earlier.
Eason: With quarterbacks, they go early. The top quarterbacks pick the schools they want and everyone else falls into place. It’s unique to the quarterback spot. … These guys are taking visits to schools their sophomore or junior years. I’d like to see the NCAA pay for the parent to go on the visit. They shouldn’t be able to be a limit visits to your senior year. You should be able to take your official visits your sophomore year, if you want. I’m not going to mention the player’s name, but there was a quarterback that I know who came from a single-parent family and they didn’t have the resources to go out and visit these schools like Jacob was fortunate enough to do. I remember seeing an article on the kid, saying, ‘Hey, I haven’t seen anything and how am I going to commit early if I haven’t seen anything.’ That person is being held back and I don’t think that’s right. I don’t think they need five visits, maybe they limit them to four visits, but they should pay for three people to pay out and visit a school. Everybody wants to have their kid go to a college camp. Jake was fortunate enough that mom and dad could pay for that, but I feel for that kid because it’s too much of a financial strain to do that. Those things need to be looked it. It’s not an even playing field for all the kids.
Lacy-Little: They want you to go visit, but it makes no sense to go on an official visit without a parent. Parents are looking at things in a totally different light. How can you afford to do that and a lot of times, the answer is no.
Eason: On the official visits, the parents need to be a sounding board for the kids. I think it’s really tough for an athlete to go by himself and make a decision on going away to a school. The NCAA is limiting that by not letting these parents deal with that. I’d also like for official visits to be done at any time, not just your senior year. In Jake’s case, he’s playing football on Friday nights. He’s looking at SEC schools and they’re across the country, so there’s no way he’s going to be able to go on an official during the season to see a home game. He’d have to fly out on a Saturday morning, and we would miss a home game. He committed to Georgia without seeing a home game there. He’s not worried about it, but for some people, that might make a difference.