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April 27, 2007

Dennis took a tepid pro-texting ban, but I disagree. I understand the outright ban on texting, insofar as the whole concept of regulating and controlling it would be extremely difficult and tricky. Limiting it to certain times, only controls when received. Last I checked, you can put text messages in a draft folder and wait to send them. Still, the reaction by the NCAA seems to be an overreaction to new means of communication — simply banning them all.

The move comes a week after the NCAA’s management council recommended passage of the ban, which also eliminates communications through other electronic means such as video phones, video conferencing and message boards on social networking Web sites.

E-mails and faxes would still be permissible and subject to current NCAA guidelines, which include some time periods that prohibit coaches from contacting recruits in any form.

The ban on texting is going to be a double-edged sword for Pitt athletics. Specifically in football and basketball. The ban on texting, coupled with the limits on phone calls and other communications limits building a relation with players. What it does, is re-invite the middle men. Whether it be a friend of the targeted recruit or the HS (or prep or JUCO) coach.

While there is disagreement on this issue, one thing is clear: This new regulation is going to put the onus back on the high school coaches to become more involved in the recruiting process. Instead of texting a prospect to have them call them when they’re free, college coaches will now rely on the high school coaches to help them build the relationship with the prospects.

That can be both good and bad, but most college football assistants agree the bigger schools will have an advantage thanks to this ruling.

High school coaches might be more willing to help get a kid to call back if they’ve received a message from a national power like Notre Dame, Texas, USC or Florida. But what about the smaller schools or a school that’s trying to build a program?

This may be fine in Western Pennsylvania for football, with Coach Wannstedt and schmoozing the HS coaches in the area. It becomes an issue, though, in trying to recruit kids in other areas. It brings back the emphasis on bigger programs that are on TV plenty and the local programs in any geographic areas.

Even coaches in support of the ban agree with that.

“It would kind of push it back towards the teams that are on television the most. Those teams might benefit from it,” [GT Coach, Paul] Hewitt said.

“If you look at the whole timeline of recruiting, they used to say it’s about out-working people. They would call kids every day, then write letters to kids every day. Then about 1990, they said you could only call once a week and limited how many days you could go see kids and that kind of took away some of the parity.

“Now, with this whole text-messaging thing, kids are now having communication and open dialogue with more programs. Obviously the programs at the bottom trying to make their way up are probably text-messaging more than the guys that are at the top. In a funny way, I think the parity we see in college basketball is about the levels of communication we have with kids.”

That will make things interesting for Pitt basketball. Don’t expect Pitt to be on the Mouse Monopoly at the same level as this past season. Louisville and GT are the early leaders for most appearances based on early expectations. Syracuse and UConn will get their usual appearances. Pitt will be on TV, but they won’t be the lead dog.

What bothers me is the middle men. You know they will be there. And that means you need them for access. That also opens the door to all sorts of slimy dealings from those who can use the access to the recruits for their own benefit.

Finally, there’s the big loophole — e-mail and cell phones. Every major carrier now can let you tie an existing e-mail account to your cell phone to receive them. Essentially the same thing, only e-mail is treated like regular mail so it is unlimited. So much for solving the problem.

In that respect it’s like money and politics. The money is going to flow, no matter what barriers and blocks are put in the way.

The New Recruiting Frontier

Filed under: Coaches,Dixon,NCAA,Recruiting,Scandal — Dennis @ 9:05 am

Technology is shaping the world we live in and the recruiting world can be bundled in with that statement as well. The text messaging of recruits has really picked up some publicity within the last year or two and now the NCAA has banned coaches from texting their recruits.

Coaches are reacting in all different ways from “I think we should be allowed to do it any time we feel,” to “Only on weekends,” to “The ban is a good thing,” to “I don’t even know how to work the damn phone.”

According to Andy Katz, Jamie Dixon feels each text message sent should count as a recruiting call. There is a limit of one call per week to a recruit so in effect you would be allowed to send one text per week to a recruit. Not a bad idea, but since the limit of characters you can send in a single message is around 160 characters then it makes much more sense to call the potential player.

That may have not been a bad route for the NCAA to take. The coaches that want to freely text message their players would see that with a limit, it makes more sense to call and texting would happen much less without placing an official ban on it.

I don’t think free texting should be allowed. Some of these high school kids want to live their lives and being constantly bombarded is unnecessary. If you can’t have unlimited phone calls and visits, who should texting be a free for all? I think I might also get creeped out if I’m getting a message every 5 minutes from an old man (read: 72-year-old Arizona coach Lute Olson).

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