GRAPEVINE -- NCAA President Mark Emmert said Thursday that he does not anticipate proposed tweaks to the college football recruiting calendar leading to an early signing period for the sport.
But he said he does expect "a vigorous debate" between Division I delegates, starting today, over proposals to lift an existing ban on text messages from football coaches to recruits and to set July 1 before a prospect's junior year as the first day for off-campus contact. If approved as endorsed by an NCAA working rules committee, both measures would be voted into legislation Saturday.
"Some institutions, some conferences, have objected to it," Emmert said, citing the Ivy League among the dissenting conferences. "Not all football coaches are thrilled about it, either. I'm sure we'll have a vigorous debate about ... the beginning date for recruitment."
Dissenters have expressed concerns about increased costs and the volume of recruits that would have to be monitored if football's recruiting calendar is tweaked to bring it in line with other sports. Asked about football going to an early signing period, similar to the one used in basketball, Emmert said: "There's no discussion of that right now."
During his opening remarks to delegates, Emmert made it clear that the association needs to simplify existing rules, which is the thrust of most proposals that will be voted on Saturday.
In terms of hot-button topics, Emmert offered no updates on Penn State's NCAA sanctions in relation to the Jerry Sandusky child molestation incidents, saying the case already had been "explored in great detail." But he said NCAA officials are monitoring reports about Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o being the victim of an Internet hoax in regard to a woman he identified as a girlfriend who died of leukemia but who never existed.
"It's obviously a very disturbing story. It's hard to tell where the facts lie at this point," said Emmert, who has yet to speak to Notre Dame officials about the situation. "Obviously, there will be a lot more to come. We don't know what the facts are, so I shouldn't comment beyond that."
Donna Lopiano, former Texas women's athletics director (1975-92) and former chief executive officer of the Women's Sports Foundation (1992-2007), received the Gerald R. Ford Award, given annually to an individual who has provided significant leadership as an advocate for intercollegiate athletics.
Lopiano stressed in her acceptance speech that, during an era of unprecedented revenues for college athletics -- primarily from college football TV rights fees -- more needs to be done in the areas of equality for female athletes and minority candidates in administrative positions in major college athletics.
Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby said he is hopeful "we may hear something" in February about the site of the 2015 national championship game, the first in college football's playoff era. Cowboys Stadium is considered the favorite to host the contest.
Former NFL coach Tony Dungy will receive the Theodore Roosevelt Award, the NCAA's highest honor, today.
Jimmy Burch, 817-390-7760