TTYL, text messaging between college coaches and high school recruits. A decision made by the NCAA back in April to eliminate text messaging between both parties took effect when August began, and coaches are now forced to adjust to a new recruiting realm – one in which communication will be much more measured, as mandated by the league.
"In anything, when we have new technology and it's abused, we have to make sure we take it back, analyze it and come forward with a great plan to make sure that we're not intrusive in kids' lives and families," Northwestern head coach Pat Fitzgerald said at the Big Ten Kickoff Luncheon. "It's a great way to communicate with kids, but at the same time I agree with the legislation to take a step back and take a look at it to make sure we're all on the same playing field."
The measure passed by a 13-3 vote in April. It was originally suggested by the Ivy League, which protested that constant text messages from college coaches was distracting prep athletes from focusing on their high school lives and that, in some cases, it was a financial burden.
Most cell phone companies offer an all-inclusive text messaging package that provides unlimited texting for a flat rate. Some parents do not realize the costs involved with text messaging, however.
Julie Posey, mother of OSU class of 2008 member DeVier Posey, said she ran up such a large bill when DeVier's older brother, Julian, was being recruited that she asked coaches to go about recruiting DeVier differently.
"I did tell coaches as we were going along, ‘Why don't you e-mail us instead of texting us?' " she said. "That way he's not being texted at school, I'm not being bugged, it's not costing me extra money."
The problem with eliminating text messaging, however, is that it is a primary method of communication for high school kids. The ban could be a short-term solution, however: A meeting will take place August 9 to discuss amending the ruling.
One potential change could see texting allowed during certain periods of the year. Similar restrictions are already in place for phone calls and visits by college coaches.
Coaches could get around not being able to make phone calls to recruits by simply sending them a text message asking the player to call them, however. Text messages were viewed as a letter and not a phone call.
"I don't know that it ought to be an all-or-none scenario," Ohio State head coach Jim Tressel said. "I think at the end of the day it's not going to be all or none. I think there will be, ‘these months you can text,' just like we have with phone calls, just like we have with letter writing. There are certain times you can do certain things. In the end, texting will be that way."
Tressel said he does not believe in sending "mindless texts," adding that he does not send a certain number of text messages on a day-to-day basis.
OSU recruiting coordinator John Peterson said he does not keep track of how many messages he sends. Peterson has a phone with a built-in keyboard to expedite the texting process.
"It's just like anything that is new with technology," he said. "Some guys pick up and adapt pretty quick and others take some time, but overall it was definitely something that we used."
Even with the new rule going into effect, Illinois head coach Ron Zook said there will be ways to get around it.
"There's a Verizon guy who talked to me last week and said, ‘You know, if you go to a computer right now and get on a text messaging site and test message somebody and no one's ever going to be able to trace it," Zook said. "He said, ‘What are you going to do if somebody gets on that site and texts a young man and says they are Ron Zook?' I said, ‘What can I do? There's no way you can prove it.' "
The timing of the ban coincides with the beginning of fall camp for both prep and college players. Tressel said not many players or coaches will be glued to computers checking for e-mails from college coaches, so the focus can remain on getting ready for the upcoming season.
In other words, the players and coaches can get back to preparing for the upcoming season.
"The focus is not on recruiting right now, whereas it is May, June, a little bit in July," Tressel said. "I'm looking more forward to our players reporting. I wasn't going to be texting much in August anyway."