Archive for Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Texting’ takes hold in world of recruits

Cell phones becoming hot tool for coaches to keep in contact with prospects

May 23, 2006


A modern-day basketball coach with the gift of gab, Kansas University's Bill Self uses his cell phone a lot - for talking more than text-messaging.

"I do not 'text' my buddies," Self said with a laugh. "I 'text,' but do not 'text' that often. I'm not good 'texting.'"

Self and "texting," or "text,messaging," became a hot topic May 10. That's when top-20 high school senior recruit Darrell Arthur of Dallas revealed he sent Self a text message indicating he had chosen KU over Baylor and LSU just three minutes before his news conference to announce his college destination.

Self returned the text message to Arthur, taking part in an interaction that has become an important part of college recruiting. One recent study estimates 82 percent of 15-19-year-old youths have cell phones.

"I've probably sent under 100, well under 100," Self said of text messages to recruits, which even can be sent during "dead periods" in recruiting, when coaches cannot phone prospects.

Text messages are currently considered in the same category as mailings. That is, coaches can text athletes unlimited times, just as they can mail unlimited letters and postcards. Coaches, however, actually can speak on the phone to prospects just twice a week during the prospects' senior seasons - once their junior campaigns.

"I think that's the only time 'Shady' texted me," Self said of Arthur.

"A lot of guys respond to text better than phone messages," Self added, sounding like a mentor who may text more in the future - or at least until the NCAA passes legislation limiting the times a coach can text a player.

Until that time, coaches can text away.

"It has run rampant," KU assistant coach Tim Jankovich said. "Most coaches I know use it a great deal. The thing is, the kids in high school love to text. They check them (messages) like crazy.

"You are confident kids are reading it because their girlfriends are sending them messages and they are checking their phones all the time."

Of course, Jankovich realizes not all youngsters like to chat whether on the phone or via text.

"Some guys don't want to get in a dialogue. Most do to some extent," Jankovich said.

One such individual is future KU player Cole Aldrich, a 6-foot-11 high school senior-to-be from Bloomington (Minn.) Jefferson High, who 'texts' KU's coaches quite a bit.

"A lot," Aldrich said. "I text coach (Joe) Dooley a lot of days. It's easier than a phone call."

He said there are disadvantages to text messaging, though.

"It can distract you at times in class," Aldrich said. "Maybe you get caught by a teacher and they will take your phone away."

Jankovich said he hoped the NCAA didn't outlaw text messages and e-mails, though he can see why the hammer might eventually come down.

It's possible coaches could get into text-messaging battles with rival schools, flooding prospects with overflow correspondence.

"Another avenue right now is how creative with e-mails you can get," Jankovich said. "They will have to put parameters on that. There's more and more things you can do on a computer. As technology grows with computers, those who know how to use it will gain an edge. Really it's all about having the same playing field. Whatever rules they make, as long as it's the same playing field (coaches are satisfied)."

In the meantime, senior prospects likely would rather read 'texts' from coaches than be barraged with two phone calls a week from many head coaches and assistants across the country.

If the NCAA does outlaw 'texting' coaches still will be punching in messages in their cell phones for one other reason.

"It's a great way to run down your own players, too," Self said, sounding like a guy whose career text count of about 100 text messages will surely rise in coming years.


Use the comment form below to begin a discussion about this content.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.