NCAA Division I men’s basketball coaches have been granted greater latitude in their recruiting efforts by the NCAA. Coaches are now able to send unlimited text messages and make unlimited calls to all potential recruits who have completed their sophomore year of high school. The new NCAA rules also authorize coaches to supplement their direct text and phone contact by sending private messages to recruits through social media sources such as Facebook and Twitter.
The new effort is a step towards streamlining the NCAA manual, which forbade “text recruiting” and limited coaches to one phone call to a recruit each month. Recruiting by text messages was limited by the NCAA five years ago in reaction to reports of excessive use by coaches. High school athletes were being inundated with a constant barrage of communications from coaches, which caused athletes to incur extraordinary cell phone usage charges. Advances in technology and the increased use of single-priced, unlimited cell phone service plans encouraged the NCAA to rethink its communication prohibition. Men’s basketball is the only NCAA sport to adopt the new rule.
Missouri Athletic Director Mike Alden, the current Chair of the NCAA Division I Leadership Council who adopted the new rule, stated, “The Leadership Council recognized the evolving nature of communication with students as well as the importance of building solid relationships with prospective student athletes. It appeared that we had previously regulated ourselves away from that relationship building…, unintentionally allowing third parties greater access than our coaches.”
The NCAA also believes that the new rule effectively will eliminate the need to enforce inadvertent recruiting violations. No longer will secondary rules violations be found, for example, when an assistant coach improperly responded to a text from a recruit who had expressed his condolences following the death of the coach’s dad or when a coach accidentally contacted a recruit a second time in one month because he forgot to record the first call on his recruiting call record sheet.
While many coaches welcome the change and look forward to an era of recruiting deregulation, others voice concern that unbridled contact between coaches and student-athletes could lead to an onslaught of unwanted communication to high school recruits.