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Archive for Thursday, April 19, 2007

Text-message ban recommended

NCAA panel suggests new guidelines in recruiting

April 19, 2007

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— Coaches have spent the last several years upgrading their gadgets and learning the new tricks of recruiting. Now it may be time to turn back the clock.

The NCAA Division I management council has recommended a ban on all electronically transmitted correspondence, including text messages, between coaches and recruits. E-mails and faxes would be exempt from the new rule but would be limited by current NCAA guidelines.

Unlike restrictions on phone calls and in-person visits, there are no coach limits on text messaging.

The Board of Directors must still pass the legislation, and if approved at its April 26 meeting, the ban would take effect in August. Typically, the board passes such recommendations, but if it's delayed or rejected, coaches would revert to their previous policy of no limits.

"I think student-athletes wanted to see this eliminated for their own sanity," said Kate Hickey, the management council's chairwoman whose term is about to expire. "And to get rid of some of these bills."

The Student-Athlete Advisory Council, which represents college athletes, complained during this week's meetings that the number of text messages had become intrusive and costly.

Hickey, an associate athletic director at Rutgers, expects the proposal to pass next week.

"I think it all depends on whether there's communication between coaches and athletic directors and then, ultimately, the board members over the next week," she said. "I think some of the coaches on our staff are going to say 'Great, we can continue to recruit the way we always have.' Others, I think, will say 'I can't believe this.'"

For some coaches, the changes could become problematic.

Before this week's vote, Santa Clara coach Kerry Keating, a former UCLA assistant, said coaches need edto contact recruits through modern means - the same way teenagers often chat with friends and family - to build relationships.

The NCAA was concerned that unlimited text messages created a loophole that permitted coaches to send a message asking recruits to call them - calls that would violate NCAA rules if the coach made the call.

Dealing with the rapid technological advances has become tricky for the NCAA. Ohio State football coach Jim Tressel has seen it all before.

"I've gone through the evolution of stopping at the payphones in the cold and freezing to death (while) calling recruits, to cell phones, to word processors - you used to hand write everything you did," he said.

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