No more text messages?

The popularity of text-messaging between college coaches and prospects has significantly changed the recruiting process. Now the NCAA Div. I management council has proposed a ban on such communication that, if approved by the NCAA board of directors on April 26, could take effect this August.

High school athletes already struggle to juggle practice, games, travel, homework, family time and social activities. They hardly need a daily barrage of phone calls, emails and text messages from dozens of college coaches ... plus more phone calls, emails and text messages from assorted recruiting services, sports writers and broadcasters.

The NCAA Student-Athlete Council recently noted that the increasing use of text-messaging as a recruiting tool is both intrusive and costly. As a result, text-messaging between coaches and recruits soon may be banned.

On man's opinion: Banning text-messaging would be an overreaction. Limiting it would be a godsend.

Heck, a text message isn't nearly as intrusive as a phone call. You don't have to set aside your homework or get up from the dinner table to answer a text message. Instead, you can view it at your convenience. You can stop at any time. You can respond or not respond ... your choice. The prospect controls the communication.

Conversely, a phone call is controlled by the coach. So, if the NCAA wants to ban something, maybe it should ban coaches from telephoning prospects rather than text-messaging them.

Another positive regarding text messages: Overzealous coaches must think twice before making ridiculous promises ("You'll start from Day One") or illegal overtures ("How would your dad like a new car?") in a format which doesn't allow them to claim they were misunderstood.

Still, there must be safeguards to prevent abuse of the text-messaging option. If coaches have shown us anything it is that they will go to ridiculous lengths to secure a prized prospect's commitment.

If Coach A is text-messaging a kid four times per day, Coach B may begin text-messaging him six times per day. Coach A then counters by text-messaging him eight times per day. Ultimately, the kid winds up playing for Coach C ... at a junior college due to poor grades.

My suggestion: Permit each school three electronic contacts per week with a prospect. It can be three phone calls, three text messages or three emails. It can be one of each. Or it can be any combination that totals three. The contact can be initiated by the head coach, an assistant or the recruiting coordinator ... just so the contact total does not exceed three.

Naturally, college coaches want no limits placed on their ability to contact prospects. They say text-messaging is an invaluable recruiting tool.

Here's a novel idea: Just this once, why not do what's best for the athlete?


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