Not a "TEXT" Book Decision

The NCAA in its never-ending attempt to micro-manage every aspect of intercollegiate athletics is taking on modern technology. The Division One Management Council has approved a proposal from the Ivy League to ban text messaging as part of the recruiting process.

The motivation behind the ban is to protect prospective student-athletes from over burdensome contact which can actually cost them money. The ban will go into effect if it is approved by the NCAA Division One Board of Directors on April 26th.

I know they mean well, but this is a typical twenty pound solution to a five pound problem. Banning all text communication (can e-mail and instant messaging be far behind?) takes the prospect out of his or her comfort zone. If you really want to get to know a teenager you better be able to speak their "language". As the father of a 21-year-old and an 18-year-old I can tell you that these kids communicate with the most modern technology available. My younger daughter rarely gets a call on our home phone and when she does it's usually to confirm an appointment for her hair, nails or eyebrows. For her it's either My Space or Face Book, test messages or cell phone calls.

Instead of banning an effective means of communication that seems to work best for the kids involved, the NCAA should have looked at other solutions to the "problem" as it relates to potential cost and/or aggravation.

Place reasonable limits ----- If its one, two or three text messages per day I really don't care. But some sort of mutually agreed upon limit would help somewhat. The problem is if you use your limit and the kids texts a coach a question he or she has to choose between being rude (not responding) and breaking a rule. Let's not do that one.

Create an opt-out system ----- This is the simplest way to do this. A school must complete a prospect profile sheet on each kid they are recruiting and on it they must have the student-athlete's permission to send text messages and/or any other form of communication. It would work along the lines of the "do not call" system we have for telemarketers and that seems to be working reasonably well.

Make the schools pay ----- All member schools would have to submit reports to the NCAA documenting who they sent text messages to and how many times. That report would include a $ .10 per text "fee" that the NCAA would then forward to individual student-athletes to defray the costs to them. This seems like a win-win way to go about it. Schools get to make the contact, but the kid doesn't have to pay for it.

Banning text messaging will only speed the transition into the newest and coolest new technology and will actually hinder the most crucial thing about recruiting a kid. Getting to know who he or she really is and whether or not they'll fit in at the school in question. As we continue to hold coaches more and more accountable for the behavior of their kids, how can we justify putting further restrictions on getting to know them in the first place?

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