NCAA prohibits texting

The NCAA Division I Board of Directors banned coaches from text messaging recruits.

Mitch Anderson

College coaches are going to have to go back to recruiting the old-fashioned way come Aug. 1.

In a 13-3 vote, the NCAA Division I Board of Directors approved a ban Thursday to eliminate text messages from coaches to recruits. The board, however, left open the possibility of revisiting the legislation next year.

The ban was proposed by the NCAA’s management council, which includes University athletic director Joel Maturi as a member.

Ben Hanson, University alumnus and a representative on the national NCAA Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, said he feels the amount of information that highly regarded prospects face while being recruited can be overwhelming at times.

“You hear accounts of it every now and then, especially football and basketball around the signing deadline, where kids are getting 80 to 100 texts a day,” Hanson said. “That’s absolutely ridiculous.”

According to University football recruiting coordinator Dan Berezowitz, text messaging is one of the most useful ways to contact recruits. Text messaging has become a main form of communication among high school students, Berezowitz said, and coaches are just trying to embrace the new technology.

Many times cell phones are the only means of communication for prep athletes, he said.

Berezowitz said that he could see how texting might be a problem if coaches got out of hand with it, but he said that Minnesota respects people’s privacy.

The new rule also eliminates communications through other electronic means such as video phones, video conferencing and message boards on social networking Web sites. E-mails will still be allowed but are subject to NCAA restrictions.

Some members of the NCAA see texting as a loophole to get around the rules limiting coaches’ contact with recruits.

Under the current rules, recruiters are only able to initiate contact with high school players after their junior year. Coaches are limited to one call per week in a specific time frame, but players can call a coach as often as they wish.

According to Hanson, the old rules didn’t set any guidelines for text messaging, so recruiters could send a message asking the player to call them and that wouldn’t count against the coach’s one call per week.

Adam Weber, a freshman quarterback on the University football team, said text messaging helped him establish a relationship with quarterback coach Tony Petersen before Weber arrived on campus.

“The U of M was definitely respectful when it came to recruiting,” Weber said. “But there were some colleges that were still mailing me two or three things a day. When they send too much stuff, it just becomes annoying and I stop even reading it.”

Weber added that he never received more than a few text messages per week, so he never felt intruded upon.

The rise of text messaging in recruiting is a relatively recent phenomenon, according to former Gophers wide receiver Logan Payne.

Payne was recruited in 2003 by the University and said he can’t remember getting a text message from a coach. Payne said the coaches contacted him by phone and letters to his house – “the old-fashioned way,” as Payne calls it.

Berezowitz said that although he sees the ban on electronic communication as a setback for coaches, it wouldn’t be that detrimental in the long run.

“Coaches are smart and resourceful,” he said. “They will find other ways to get in contact with players they want to.”