U resets recruiting policy

Than Tibbetts

University athletics officials formally finished their list of recruiting dos and don’ts last week.

The new policy coincided with the National Collegiate Athletics Association’s Wednesday deadline for all Division I schools to develop recruiting policies that specifically prohibit inappropriate or illegal behavior.

The University now officially prohibits consuming alcoholic beverages and the use of strippers, among other things.

In August, NCAA President Myles Brand said in a statement that the association would not tolerate the use of alcohol, sex and other inappropriate or illegal behavior.

Athletics Director Joel Maturi expressed similar sentiments.

“It’s improper to induce prospective student-athletes with that type of behavior, just as last year we had the Deja Vu incident,” Maturi said.

The University’s policy states that athletics staffs involved were willing to reduce or eliminate “some of the perceived excesses in hosting recruits, as long as their peers were moving in the same direction.”

Maturi said the University and the athletics department were already working on new recruiting guidelines before the NCAA mandate in August. The mandate was in response to recruiting problems at the University of Colorado, when the school was accused of using strip club visits and alcohol-fueled sex parties to entice athletes.

“I’m not so sure they even know about ours,” Maturi said, referencing the University’s own recruiting ruckus that happened at the beginning of 2004.

An investigation into the University’s recruiting practices was launched in January after several recruits told local media outlets they had visited bars and Deja Vu, a local strip club.

Maturi said he thought the incident was overblown in the media.

“But I’m not trying to imply that what happened was appropriate, because it’s not,” he said.

Robert Hemenway, the NCAA Division I board of directors chairman and chancellor of the University of Kansas, said in August that the new rules try to eliminate the “celebrity atmosphere that has developed around the recruiting visit.”

The NCAA’s August ruling also requires universities to use standard vehicles, lodging, meals and coach-class airfare. Universities also can’t use personalized recruiting aides, such as jerseys, scoreboard presentations or simulated game-day experiences.

Recruits are allowed to stand on the sidelines before a game starts and may also visit the locker room before and after games. All of these rules are covered under the athletics department’s “excessive entertainment policy.”

The department now also requires prospective student-athletes and their hosts to sign a contract with the official visit guidelines.

Kim Sorvari, an elementary education senior, said she didn’t see a problem with recruits attending strip clubs.

“If they’re of legal age, I don’t have a problem with it, as long as they’re not causing trouble or making chaos,” she said. “Everybody at that age is going to visit those places.”

Sean Kommerstad, a business sophomore, said prospective student-athletes shouldn’t have to drink or visit strip clubs on a recruiting visit.

“It’s not totally representative of what happens in the sport at the school,” he said.

– The Associated Press contributed to this report.