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Mike Casazza: Smaller sports worried by rule

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. -- You're probably not sure what RWG-13-3 is, but you're likely hip to the concept. That particular piece of NCAA legislation adopted by the Rules Working Group in January did away with every restriction on any kind of school-to-prospect communication during recruiting.

You heard it called the unlimited texting rule. Though it was controversial when presented as an intrusion or aggravation for a 17-year-old kid who might receive several hundred text messages a day, it was also accepted in many corners because, hey, kids text these days and colleges have to speak that language.

Well, RWG-13-3 was later suspended thanks to a review process that requires 75 votes to reverse a decision. The opposition party counted 83 votes. What was easily the most significant of the more than two dozen adoptions in January was pushed to the side.

Just when you think there's a little bit of order, perhaps even sanity, when it comes to the laws and the people who govern college sports, consider the plight of RWG-11-3-B. It, too, was adopted in January and it, too, was controversial, so much so that 94 schools voted to override it.

And the NCAA is ignoring that and pressing on to do away with something that's critical in college's smaller sports. RWG-11-3-B prohibits live scouting.

Live scouting is basically prohibited in football, basketball and volleyball, with some exceptions, like winning a Big 12 tournament game and scouting the game after yours to get a look at the next day's opponent. Yet those sports make live scouting somewhat unnecessary because it's just about impossible to not get a particular game on film these days. Even Big 12 volleyball has a rule for teams to upload matches to a server, from where conference foes can download and scout.

The rule is supposed to address a competitive concern. Alabama's football coaches could charter a jet and go watch an opponent live during an open week while Wyoming's coaches couldn't afford such a luxury. But that situation isn't realistic. It doesn't happen.

"The rule's being put in for football and basketball, but the thing is nobody outside of football and basketball has a national server where you can get every single game everywhere and the quality of the film isn't different from institution to institution," said West Virginia men's soccer Coach Marlon LeBlanc, whose world will be flipped upside down unless RWG-11-3-B is spiked next week.

"You can go into an arena and get great film at Texas Tech, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, but we're not going to get that from Northern Illinois. It doesn't exist."

When LeBlanc was in the Big East, schools shared every match on a server - and really, this is something major conferences, including Big 12 women's soccer, do as a common sense courtesy because it's fair and makes teams better.

Most of the schools even subscribed to a statistics and scouting software program that allowed opponents to get very particular about preparation.

LeBlanc could get a good look at just about everyone he was playing, but if he was really eager, he'd travel to Pitt or Villanova or Louisville or somewhere reasonably close and watch in person.

The aforementioned competitive financial concern could come into play again because one school's riches shouldn't embarrass another's and LeBlanc's budget can't rightly give him a privilege another school can't provide.

What if I told you the NCAA previously banned schools from reimbursing coaches for traveling to scout? LeBlanc scouted on his own dime, but now the NCAA is saying that shouldn't be allowed, either.

Even if LeBlanc was allowed to travel to scout, he has to make much longer trips now. He's a member of the Mid-American Conference and only Akron, Kent State and Ohio University are what one might call close.

In the absence of live scouting, there is film, right? Well, MAC schools don't have a refined plan to share game film. The home team burns a DVD on site and hands it to the visitor after the match. The quality is unreliable. WVU and Akron are the only schools that subscribe to the stat and scouting program that can cost up to $15,000.

Good luck getting a good look at a team before a match. LeBlanc must go to extremes, like last year when he subscribed to Northwestern's website service and watched the Wildcats play NIU - and he wasn't reimbursed for that either.

WVU's non-conference schedule is loaded next season and features both teams from last year's championship match. Neither Indiana nor Georgetown is going to give LeBlanc a DVD before playing the Mountaineers. Maybe LeBlanc can find a team he doesn't play, but plays the Hoosiers or the Hoyas before WVU gets its shot. That third-party won't help WVU beat Indiana or Georgetown because the RPI is as important in soccer as it is in basketball.

Seven NCAA sports oppose RWG-11-3-B. The National Soccer Coaches' Association of America is asking every Division I school to submit an override position vote on RWG-11-3-B before next Friday's deadline because "the rationale of the proposal is inaccurate as it assumes that video quality and accessibility are the same for all sports."  

Clearly it's not and to reach that equality will cost money. The NSCAA believes "if video quality and accessibility are to be the same for all sports, then significant equipment upgrades will be required, as well as systems implemented for video exchange."

"What they're trying to accomplish is leveling the playing field, but they're actually not leveling the playing field because they're eliminating my ability to watch matches I need to watch because my conference doesn't have the money to have an all-share video plan," LeBlanc said. "The whole thing doesn't make sense."

Contact sportswriter Mike Casazza at mikec@dailymail.com or 304-319-1142. His blog is at blogs.dailymail.com/wvu. Follow him on Twitter at @mikecasazza.


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