Even though the NCAA’s Division I board voted last month to scrap annual signing limits that have prevented many schools from having the maximum 85 scholarship players in recent seasons, coach Lance Leipold thinks that it will likely be some time before Kansas can recognize the effects of this decision.
The move, which took effect June 1 and will initially last two years, should help the Jayhawks significantly as they have been unable to adequately replace players who departed amid the coaching turmoil that has drove from David Beaty to Les Miles in Leipold. .
“We were able to do a few more things than we thought we could do right here late this summer, but as we move forward we have to continue to see how we are going to approach the next set of needs assessments,” said Thursday. Leipold at Journal-World.
Kansas lost 12 combined scholarship players and transfers in the week following the April 9 spring game – none of whom played a significant role last season – but has since added eight scholarship players from Division I schools or junior colleges.
Among them are two players who could have an immediate impact for the Jayhawks in wide receiver Doug Emilien, who transferred from Minnesota, and safety Marvin Grant, who left Purdue.
These eight players will join the eight who transferred to Kansas before the start of the spring semester in January to complete a team that will be very different in Leipold’s second season.
The NCAA for the past decade has allowed Division I schools to offer up to 25 scholarships per recruiting class to recent high school graduates or players who have chosen to transfer. But if more than 25 players left a team in any given year, that team was still liable for the 25 scholarship limit — a limit that was temporarily raised to 32 players amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Beaty said in July 2018 that Kansas only had 39 scholarship players when he was hired in December 2014. At the start of the 2019 season, Miles’ first as coach, that number was still only of 68 – and he wouldn’t have reached 85 until the start of this season, assuming no one but the graduates had left the team in the past three years.
Leipold wouldn’t disclose how many players will get scholarships once the Jayhawks begin training camp in August, but said he wanted to make sure the roster isn’t as heavily dependent on subclasses, as was the case last season, or unbalanced by position.
“Watching all of conference or Power 5 football or the top Big 12 will also be important,” Leipold said. “Is everyone playing with older players at all levels now due to the availability to go that route? We’re continuing to research all of that now in Year 2.”
Almost every Kansas added by transfer in the last seven months has at least two years of eligibility remaining, which means the Jayhawks have added players who have time to grow on the team but are still older and experienced.
Recruiting players to specific positions can still be tricky. Kansas didn’t add a high school receiver in the last recruiting round because it had an overabundance of players in that position, but three decided to transfer in April and only Emilien joined the team. As a result, he has prioritized position in the Class of 2023 and has already made three wide receiver commitments.
Last week, the NCAA’s Transformation Committee recommended changes to the protocols surrounding the online transfer portal, which was created in October 2018 to help players change schools. A record number of players across all sports have decided to transfer over the past three-plus years, creating a mass movement of players, and the committee has suggested that players only be allowed to transfer during designated windows, which meaning teams would know when to prepare for departures.
Those recommendations could be approved by the NCAA Division I board of directors as early as Aug. 3, though it’s unclear what those windows will look like or when they would be instituted.
“College sports continue to face many challenges, and we must move quickly to update our rules and make offenses more effective so that we can focus our attention on the expectations of Division I members and, most importantly, about benefits for student-athletes,” Georgia President Jere said. Morehead, chairman of the board, said in a statement.
Leipold said that between pending and proposed regulations, everyone is still trying to find “the middle ground” between allowing players to leave while keeping teams together.
“We still have to balance, in this sport as much as any other, team camaraderie and working together and your investment and all that,” Leipold said. “I hope we find these windows of what the portal is.”