WSU coaches: Limit, don't ban, text messaging

YOU'D BE HARD-PRESSED to find a recruiting story on these pages over the last couple of years that didn't include the term "text messaging." The unregulated assault of this cell technology on college recruiting was so pronounced that the NCAA has banned its use, effective Aug. 1. Bill Doba, Tony Bennett and other WSU coaches say reform was needed, but believe a complete ban goes too far.

They hope the NCAA will revisit the ruling.

At the recent King County Cougar Golf Classic co-sponsored by Cougfan.com, Doba said text messaging has become a huge intrusion in the lives of college prospects.

While Doba dubs text messaging "a phony way to communicate -- I like to talk with somone," he does believe there's a place for it in recruiting and supports a Pac-10 Conference recommendation that would allow text messaging outside of school hours and only during certain times of the year.

He shared one example of just how out-of-control the situation had become. This past recruiting season, speedy Jeshua Anderson from Woodland Hills, Calif., received an onslaught of text messages from another Pac-10 school while he was in Pullman on an official visit. Doba found this exhibition by the other school to be nothing less than tasteless.

And perhaps Anderson did, too. He signed with WSU, choosing the Cougars over Oregon.

"I don't think text messaging is bad if it's limited," said WSU offensive coordinator Mike Levenseller. "Doing it during the day, while kids are in class, isn't right. With email, it's at the discretion of the recipient when they open it. Text messaging isn't that way. It also can be expensive for these kids and their parents."

He also noted that the practice isn't always conducted in a genuine way, with "some of the bigger schools simply assigning office staff to send out messages" using the phones of coaches.

Bennett says he's OK with the new ruling because it affects every school the same and because it will reduce the cost burden for the athletes. Still, he says wistfully, any aspect of the recruiting process -- such as unregulated messaging -- that offers a chance to outwork competitors is one that benefits WSU "because we won't get outworked by anybody."

Doba's recruiting coordinator, Greg Peterson, applauds the NCAA for taking action, but believes that text messaging should be treated the same way as phone calls. During the football season and the May evaluation period, colleges are allowed to phone a recruit once per week.


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