New-Age Recruiting Method Could be History

Text messaging as a way of recruiting kids could be a thing of the past come this August. The NCAA Division 1 management council recommended the ban on Wednesday and the Board of Directors is expected to approve it on April 26.

Yet another knee-jerk reaction by the NCAA.

The NCAA Division 1 management council recommended a ban on text messages between college coaches and recruits on Wednesday. If the Board of Directors gives its approval on April 26 (which it likely will) recruits such as Al-Farouq Aminu and Rotnei Clarke will no longer be able to receive texts from their suitors.

``It's my job to find out how to get a kid and communicate with a recruit," Arizona State assistant coach Archie Miller said. "People are going to find new ways to communicate because that's our job."

``Texting is the number one way to communicate with kids these days," he added. "We communicate with our own players day-to-day by texting. I don't even know how to get a hold of some of our kids if not through text."

While assistant coaches are the ones who have made the most use of text messaging over the last couple years, even head coaches such as Arizona's 72-year-old Lute Olson utilizes and is a proponent of the fairly new technology.

``If a kid doesn't want to respond, he doesn't have to," Olson said. "They can return your text if they want to."

``I really think the NCAA needs to look into this more," he added. "They need to get a lot more input before they make a decision on this. Sending a text is so easy. My grandchildren are texting all the time. It's their main means of communication."

Aminu, considered one of the elite juniors in the country, said that he receives less than 10 text messages per week and it's not intrusive – unless you let it become that way.

``It's not nagging at all. I just tell most of the college coaches to text my mom," said the 6-foot-8 Norcross High (Ga.) standout, who is considering, North Carolina, Florida, Georgia Tech, UConn, Clemson and Wake Forest. "I'm sure it could get bad if kids don't say anything."

Many parents even favor the texting method.

``It's convenient for me," said Tywanna Patterson, the mother of the top unsigned senior in the country, Patrick Patterson. "Kids can always turn off their cell phones."

However, one of those coaches pursuing Aminu feels that a change needs to be made.

``This was getting a little too intrusive for the kids," Georgia Tech head coach Paul Hewitt said.

Hewitt's suggestion is simple: College coaches are only allowed to text kids on the weekends.

Clarke, a guard at Verdigris High in Oklahoma who is finishing up his junior year, said that nearly every student in his school brings their phone into classes.

``They put it on silent or vibrate," Clarke said. "I think that would be a good idea because then you don't have kids texting in the middle of class."

While Hewitt said he'd rather do away with text messaging completely than continue to have no restrictions on how often coaches can use it, he also understands this may give the so-called "street agent" more involvement in the recruitment of players.

``It would let the middle man back in this. They would try to be dictating to the family how the process works," Hewitt said. "Coaches would be going through a go-between. I call you. You call the kid. It's like telephone."

Doing away with text messaging, which was first brought to the table by the Ivy League, is not a well-thought out idea. Texting is far less intrusive than a kid's phone ringing all night and spending hours conversing with a coach.

``That's much harder," Aminu said. "With a text, you don't even have to respond if you don't want to and you can get to the point quicker."

Texting is what kids do these days. Whether it's Olson's grandchildren or the elite players in the country.

The reasons that the Student-Athlete Advisory Council pointed to for getting rid of texting were its intrusiveness and also the cost that a kid can incur by text messaging.

Well, some monthly plans for unlimited texts run as little as $5 per month and few are in upwards of $20 per month. That's not going to make or break many recruits, who have a cell phone on one hip and another communication gadget on the other.

Restrictions should apply in some form, but there's no reason to completely do away with the new-age communication method.

``As long as it's not affecting recruits financially, I don't see any need to eliminate it," Villanova's Jay Wright said. "It's definitely an issue we all need to look into."


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