NCAA gives basketball coaches phone freedom
Coaches can now pick up their smartphones without trepidation.
Starting Friday, Division I men’s basketball coaches will be able to send unlimited texts and make unlimited calls to recruits who have wrapped up their sophomore year of high school. The NCAA will also allow coaches to send private messages to prospective players through social media sites like Facebook and Twitter.
It all means that sending a recruit an LOL (laugh out loud) will no longer get you a TTYL (talk to you later) from the NCAA.
The NCAA is allowing coaches to text, tweet and talk to their hearts’ content because, as Missouri athletic director Mike Alden put it, the organization “recognized the evolving nature of communication with students.”
In essence, coaches can finally get with the times without getting into trouble.
“I really believe it will help. I’m excited about it. And I think it’s going to be good, more so than the texts, just the ability to call and making sure to have that direct verbal communication,” Memphis coach Josh Pastner said.
The new rule was adopted by the Division I Board of Directors last October after being recommended by its leadership council. The NCAA realized that coaches were having a tougher time than ever building relationships with recruits who already know their way around social media and then some.
What was even more worrisome was that while coaches had their thumbs tied behind their backs, third parties were using new technology to get to recruits more easily than ever.
“Now instead of going around people to get to the kid or the parents, you can call them directly. I think that’s a very valid point as to why they made the rule change,” first-year Illinois coach John Groce said.
But just because a coach can call and text a kid at will doesn’t mean he should.
Knowing when to contact a recruit and when to back off could be the tricky side of this new policy.
Creighton coach Greg McDermott has a unique perspective on the matter, having seen recruiting from the side of a coach at Northern Iowa, Iowa State and Creighton and as the father of current Jays star Doug McDermott.
Greg McDermott said that the main objective for his staff is to get to know each recruit and their family inside and out. Some will undoubtedly get a kick out of all the extra attention, while others will be turned off by it.
“I think I’m probably still on the fence,” McDermott said of the new rules. “It can be a disruptive process if you allow it to become that. So I think it’s going to become really important for our staff to make sure we do our due diligence in researching each individual and each family.”
With these new guidelines, the NCAA has essentially legalized the activity that got former Oklahoma and Indiana coach Kelvin Sampson bounced from the college game a few years back. But all coaches have had to walk a tightrope of monitoring phone calls made by themselves and their staff to recruits, and the new rules should help them breathe easier.
“You know, honestly I think it’s just too hard to keep track of,” West Virginia coach Bob Huggins said. “If you can’t legislate it, if you can’t enforce it then you probably ought to just go ahead and make it legal. I think that’s kind of what happened with Prohibition.”
There could also be an unexpected benefit from allowing more contact between coaches and recruits.
It will be easier for everyone to know the level of interest — say, a BFF (best friends forever), a BFFN (best friends for now) or it’s CYA time.
“I think it’s a win-win for everybody,” Minnesota coach Tubby Smith said. “Kids, they all have cellphones where they can identify who’s calling. They can pick up the phone or not. That gives you an indication about where you stand.”