Rush Propst on NCAA Bylaw 11.4.4: 'It is stopping a man from advancing his career and is not what America is made about'

Rush Propst on NCAA Bylaw 11.4.4: 'It is stopping a man from advancing his career and is not what America is made about'

Football

Rush Propst on NCAA Bylaw 11.4.4: 'It is stopping a man from advancing his career and is not what America is made about'

College and high school football have been hit with setbacks since the NCAA implemented a rule preventing high school coaches being around players they coached in high school.

The setback stems from the passing of NCAA Bylaw 11.4.4 in April 2017.

NCAA Bylaw 11.4.4 reads: “In bowl subdivision football, during a two-year period before a prospective student-athlete’s anticipated enrollment and a two-year period after the prospective student-athlete’s actual enrollment, an institution shall not employ (or enter into a contract for future employment with) an individual associated with the prospective student-athlete in any athletics department noncoaching staff position or in a strength and conditioning staff position.”

The rule is damaging towards a coach and player’s relationship and also prevents high school coaches furthering their coaching careers.

Colquitt County (GA) High School head coach Rush Propst is looking to change the rule to protect formed relationships and to allow coaches to further their careers.

Propst is well-known throughout the sport with his success at Hoover (AL) High School winning five Alabama state championships and now at Colquitt County winning two Georgia state championships and the 2015 national championship.

Throughout Propst’s coaching career, 20 of his assistant coaches have coached in college football. He also has eight players on SEC rosters currently.

Having coaches that worked for him in high school along with players he coached in high school being spread out throughout college football is what taints Propst from coaching at the collegiate level with people that he is familiar with and has relationships with in an off-the-field capacity.

NCAA Bylaw 11.4.4 hurts Propst because if any school that hires him in an off-field role in the near future, they cannot sign players from Colquitt County for two years.

“Here is the problem,” Propst told Vols Wire. “We have an SEC corner back right now, an SEC offensive lineman right now, and in next year’s class we have the No. 1 rated running back in the state of Georgia, the No. 1 rated corner in the state of Georgia, a linebacker – so in two classes there are five if not six SEC guys and it will only continue to be that way. We probably have 20 SEC players in the next five years.”

For instance, if Tennessee head coach Jeremy Pruitt who worked under Propst at Hoover as defensive coordinator and defensive backs coach, wanted to bring his former boss in as an off-field analyst he cannot do that. The Vols have three players from Colquitt County on roster from separate signing classes, meaning that Propst’s clock of having to wait and go to Tennessee in an off-field role continues to start over whenever UT signs a player from his high school.

Pruitt, like Propst, is big on relationships. Relationships go hand-in-hand in recruiting and recruiting is the lifeblood of any successful college football program. NCAA Bylaw 11.4.4 negates high school coaches in continuing to be closely involved in their players lives. The rule also ends a pipeline from a high school to a university.

“Right now the relationships have been tainted by the NCAA,” Propst said. “They have caused this problem and it’s not a good problem. I don’t agree with it and there is nothing good about it. You are putting the kid at risk and you are putting the school at risk and creating a bad environment.

“To me the NCAA would do due diligence to drop this rule and allow the high school coach to be promoted.”

Propst wants to be clear that his opposition towards the NCAA rule is not about him, but is also hurting a lot of other high school coaches. He says that the NCAA is “stopping a man from advancing his career and is not what America is made about.”

Current Clemson safeties coach Mickey Conn is one example of a high school coach that worked his way up from coaching high school to college and relationships were a result of his move to the college game. Conn played at Alabama alongside Dabo Swinney and was the head coach at Grayson (GA) High School from 2000-15 and furthered his coaching career by joining Clemson in 2016 as a defensive analyst. Conn moved on-field in 2017 as Clemson’s safeties coach.

Georgia running backs coach Dell McGee is another coach that has benefited by having an opportunity serving as an analyst to further his coaching career. McGee played at Auburn and was a coach at Carver-Columbus (GA) High School before being an analyst at Auburn in 2013. After one season as an analyst at his alma mater, McGee had an opportunity to coach on-field as an assistant at Georgia Southern and as an interim head coach for the Eagles’ bowl game in 2015. Now McGee is in his third season as running backs coach at Georgia and has been named assistant head coach entering the 2018 season.

Former Tennessee State player Olten Downs is another former Georgia high school head coach, turned analyst, turned college position coach. Downs was most recently a high school head coach at Creekside from 2013-14 and then had an opportunity to become a quality control coach at Georgia in 2015 and assistant director of player development in 2016. In 2017, Downs moved on-field as safeties coach at Georgia Southern.

Propst points out that “good football programs with good coaches, good young coaches, middle-age coaches, and you ask them their inspiration of where they want to be and they want to move to the next level.”

Having high school coaches join forces in an off-the-field capacity can also help eliminate any outside forces towards the student-athlete. With an established pipeline from a university to high schools and allowing for coaches to have an off-field collegiate position while another coach receives a chance as a head coach in high school in a domino effect, helps the coaching profession too while there is continued guidance and trust.

Propst questions the NCAA’s Bylaw 11.4.4 ruling of dismantling a pipeline of built trust.

“Does the NCAA want the good pipeline or the sewage pipeline?,” Propst asks.

“They were thinking universities were hiring coaches because they had players. I don’t see where that is wrong, we are developing players,” Propst continued.

“College coaches are not going to hire high school coaches that can’t coach. There are a lot of high school coaches in Gus Malzahn, Hugh Freeze, Art Briles, Jeremy Pruitt, that have proven high school coaches can come into the college profession and be very successful in coaching football. There is not a huge difference in the coaching part of it.”

With the state of Georgia being a hotbed for recruiting and high school coaches having to wait out a two-year window to join FBS staffs in an off-field role if any of their players sign with that prospected school, Propst mentions two high school head coaches in Georgia that could be affected by the rule.

Carrollton High School head coach Sean Calhoun is one that could benefit from the NCAA bylaw rule change if he were to advance his career in the future in an off-field role at the FBS level. Calhoun worked under Propst as Colquitt County’s offensive coordinator winning the 2014 and 2015 Georgia 6-A state championships.

Cartersville High School head coach Joey King who was Director of Football Operations at Propst’s alma mater Jacksonville State in 2006 is another coach on the rise who could look to further his career at the next level.

Propst says that the NCAA is “punishing those kinds of people who are good, young football coaches.”

“To me that has to be challenged and has to be changed,” Propst continued. “I will go to any court in the land and I will say anything I need to say because this rule is dead wrong and until they get it changed, it is going to continue to hurt people and hurt our game of high school football, it’s going to hurt our relationships, it will hurt everything. If they do not change it, it will only get worse and will create a bad, negative atmosphere.

“There are a lot of good men that are good football coaches that are being punished by this rule and it is not the American way.”

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