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NCAA Adopts Changes Aimed at Streamlining Its Rule Book

The bagel rule is toast. The most infamous of NCAA rules—which permitted colleges to provide players with bagels, as long as they didn’t have cream cheese—was eliminated on Saturday along with a number of nitpicking regulations as part of a significant downsizing of the Division I manual.

The changes, adopted by the NCAA’s Division I Board of Directors and scheduled to go into effect in August, are part of an extensive revision of how the NCAA governs college sports. The association is expected to push through a variety of other rules changes in coming months.

In total, the board approved 25 proposals on Saturday, including changes limiting regulation of personnel, recruiting, eligibility, and benefits. Among other things, the moves give coaches the ability to make unlimited contact with recruits through text messages and social media, and take the NCAA out of the business of regulating such mundane matters as printed recruiting materials.

“Some of our rules are counterintuitive, outdated, and just unenforceable. They just don’t make sense in the world we live in,” said Mark Emmert, the NCAA’s president. “We are refocusing on the things that really matter, the threats to integrity and the biggest issues facing intercollegiate athletics.”

The changes, which include a set of “commitments” that will serve as the foundation for all future rules changes, include the addition of several new regulations. One allows institutions or their conferences to pay athletes’ medical expenses. Another prevents Division I athletic departments from scouting opponents in person.

The new rules process will be guided by a commitment to fair competition, which “acknowledges that variability will exist among members in advantages, including facilities, geographic location, and resources, and that such variability should not be justification for future legislation.”

The board delayed action on a controversial proposal that would create a uniform starting date for recruiting in all sports.

Some of the changes, which are part of Mr. Emmert’s reform push started in August 2011, favor wealthier programs and could face pushback from NCAA colleges.

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