NCAA: College press can cover student-athlete recruits

NORTH CAROLINA — The National Collegiate Athletic Association has reversed a long-standing policy that had ignored the right of collegiate newspapers to interview high school student-athlete recruits.

The policy was changed late last month after the NCAA deemed the University of North Carolina at Charlotte violated a regulation when its student-run Web site, NinerOnline, published several articles about sport recruits.

The NCAA forbids university personnel including coaching and public relations staff and current or future athletes to discuss or comment about recruiting prospects, said NCAA spokesman Wally Renfro.

“We had viewed student newspapers as part of the university, and the university can’t comment on these things,” said Renfro.

But after both the online student publication and UNC-Charlotte athletic department appealed the initial ruling, the NCAA’s Committee of Membership overturned its original decision.

“The Committee of Membership reviewed it and agreed that student newspapers should be treated the same way as commercial newspapers,” he said.

Commercial media and now student newspapers can publish recruiting stories, but neither the university nor athlete can comment in the story, Renfro said.

The new interpretation will not be included in the NCAA’s bylaws, but it will be documented and practiced by all member schools, he said.