April 18, 2007

They Said It: Reaction to possible text ban

In the wake of the news that the NCAA may ban text messaging between coaches and prospective student-athletes, Rivals.com contacted several coaches and players from around the nation for their reaction. Below are many of the responses.

Notre Dame recruiting coordinator Rob Ianello: "We're extremely disappointed. We've argued time and time again the benefits of text messaging. This is how young people today communicate, and I think this is a totally short-sighted move by the NCAA. We've put a considerable amount of time and effort into this issue, and the NCAA has failed to keep up with how people communicate today. That's the way I communicate with my players here on campus, and I know assistant coaches all across the board were strongly in favor of keeping some sort of text messaging.

"The AFCA came up with some proposals that we submitted to this same subcommittee that would have taken months away from when coaches could text a recruit. It would have taken some, and it would have given some. The proposals would have put a cap on it and really regulated how it was done. But they totally shot it down. I'm surprised they took it this far."

Rivals.com 2007 Recruiter of the Year, LSU assistant football coach Larry Porter: "I don't agree with them banning text messaging, but I don't have a problem with them regulating it. For example, you know we're going into the summer where they (the kids) have free time and we have more down time than normal. Why shouldn't it be unlimited? Going into the fall, they're going to school, have practice, we have practice, so at that time, it's good to regulate it some. Then they are going to have some time in December and January where there needs to be more unlimited access. We need that.

"Then there is the spring, where we need to get to know the kids and communicate with them to know who they are. I'm sure the kids would want that too. I think there are phases when it can be very limited and phases where it can be unlimited. To ban totally, I don't agree with that."

Class of 2007 four-star tight end Christian Ballard, who recently signed with Iowa: "For me, it was easier to text message with a coach than it was to talk to him on the phone. That way, I could communicate with them when I wanted to, and I could also chose who I wanted to respond to and who I wanted to ignore. It also allowed me to think about what I wanted to say before I really said it. When you're typing you have to think about what you're saying, instead of just coming right out and saying it. I built a special bond with many of the coaches that recruited me through text messaging."

Oklahoma State head baseball coach Frank Anderson: "In a way, I'd hate to see them (NCAA) do that, because it makes it easier to contact and receive correspondence from a recruit without having to call or bother them in less convenient fashion. If you only have so much time as a senior in high school, it's important to be able to receive text messages from coaches.

Anderson has seen both sides as his son Brett was being recruited before deciding to play pro ball. "Having to deal with this issue in my own house, I think it will make it tougher for both coaches and players to keep in contact. To me, this issue is all about respect and privacy. And instead of bugging a kid with constant phone calls, text messages allow a recruit to contact you at his convenience."

UCLA head baseball coach John Savage : "Being in Los Angeles and stuck in traffic half the time, I think it's important to have the ability to text message prospective student-athletes. It's a big deal out here. It's a great and convenient way for people to contact you and for you to contact them.

"I've heard of situations where a prospective student-athlete ends up with a ridiculous phone bill because coaches are text messaging him so much. I think it's a good idea to have it available, but in many instances it's abused. I'm for regulation, but I'm not for outlawing the ability to use it as a means for communication."

Penn State wide receiver Derrick Williams, Rivals.com's No.1 prospect in 2005: "I'm kind of for (the ban). I think kids need time to just be kids and not worry about people text messaging them. Just wait until they get home and do the right thing by calling them one time a week or when (signing day) gets closer, two times a week."

Georgia Tech head basketball coach Paul Hewitt: "This thing has become too intrusive into kid's lives. Not only coaches but media people who get an idea of what they are thinking about. I was a proponent of doing it just on the weekends and not during the week. They originally said you could not do it during school hours, which I thought made an awful lot of sense. Kids shouldn't have text messages and two-way pagers going off in class or texting back and forth.

"I would love to have seen no text messaging between Monday through Friday and only on Saturday and Sunday.

"What you have to do is think about how kids communicate. That is how they communicate. It used to be, I'd be on a road trip and guys would be in the bus talking, playing cards, listening to music or watching television. Now everyone has their heads down and no one is talking to each other. They get along, it's not a matter of not liking each other. They could be sitting on a bus next to a guy they consider their best friend and not say a word to them from campus to the airport or on a short ride to a place like Clemson, which is only two hours away. Instead, they'll be working their thumbs the whole time.

"It would kind of push it back towards the teams that are on television the most. Those teams might benefit from it. If you look at the whole timeline of recruiting, they used to say it's about out-working people. So guys used to live with kids, literally, then they would call kids everyday, then write letters to kids everyday. Then about 1990, they said you could only call once a week and limited how many days you could go see kids and that kind of took away some of the parity. Now, with this whole text-messaging thing, kids are now having communication and open dialogue with more programs. Obviously the programs at the bottom trying to make their way up are probably text-messaging more than the guys that are at the top. In a funny way, I think the parity we see in college basketball is about the levels of communication we have with kids."

UCF head basketball coach Kirk Speraw: "I think it's an advantageous way to communicate in this day and age, and yet it probably has gone overboard and been intrusive to a recruit's life. I can see it both ways. If you bombard a kid with texts they may think that's great or a pain in the rear end. I think the problem comes in that in many cases we're putting a financial burden on these kids to pay for all of these text messages."

UNLV head basketball coach Lon Kruger: "There was an expectation of some ruling coming down, but I didn't know it would be a complete ban on texting. That's a surprise. It became a pretty convenient method of communicating. You could do it at your leisure, and the prospect could respond at his leisure or choose not to. I know the expense was a concern. I don't think it's going to be any world-changing event."

Dartmouth head basketball coach Terry Dunn: "I could go either way on this one. I'm not really that concerned about it. I do think we were doing okay before text messaging, though. I do think there needs to be some sort of privacy and some type of space for the prospects. We need to respect that. I guess I'm just old fashioned and like to just talk with them on the phone.

"We do utilize text messaging. We use what is effective with a prospect. What works for some prospects doesn't necessarily work for another. It might not just go the opposite direction of no text messaging. There could be some type of adjustment and compromise where texts are limited. A long time ago there were unlimited phone calls. Most people can't even remember that time."

Kansas State assistant basketball coach Dalonte Hill: "It's a great way to reach out and keep up with the younger kids. It's a great way to let them know how things are going and build the relationship as well.

"It's a lot easier for a kid to tell you that he is interested with a text than it is over the phone, too. If he's not interested, he'll just text you and tell you that he's not interested instead of you calling him and wearing him out for a response. That interrupts his day moreso than getting the text."

"Banning it hurts the guys that work. Text-messaging is work. You are keeping up conversations right away and not having to wait until you get that one phone call. If you get rid of text messaging, you are giving an advantage to those upper-level universities."

Georgia State head basketball coach Rod Barnes: "I wish they would consider some kind of restrictions rather than get rid of it altogether. One of the first things for me is it gives you an opportunity to get to know a kid a little better. Some coaches may be abusing it in some way, but for most the most part I feel it's good for the coaches and good for the student-athletes. It gives me an opportunity to get feedback from guys on a consistent basis. They can always not text back if that's a problem."

DePaul assistant basketball coach Ramon Williams: "It is a tough call to regulate it. You run into a lot of grey areas, and there will certainly be somebody that crosses the line. There is so much more paperwork that you have to do. I don't know how you will keep track of it if you did regulate it.

"One way to avoid any kind of problems is their suggestion; either you keep it or get rid of it. Obviously, I want to keep it.

"I think the kids can regulate it. They can keep their phones turned off, which they should anyways in school, or have the parents come up with the times they can use the phone."

Xavier assistant basketball coach Chris Mack: "It's a difficult deal ... with escalating costs on players' cell phones. And I don't see how you police it. It will be interesting to see what the NCAA does. Technology has really changed recruiting from getting instant feedback on recruiting visits, to seeing how games turned out as well as text messaging. Probably the best option would be to restrict text messaging, but not as much as phone calls are restricted."

Tennessee assistant basketball coach Steve Forbes: "Why ban text messaging and not e-mail? They are both written communication. I think a total ban is overly reactive."

Notre Dame assistant basketball coach Gene Cross: "Assistants will find a way to get in touch with kids. People are going to find ways around it. If I send an instant message to a young man, sometimes they have it hooked up to their cell phone. Is that considered a text message? Is a Sidekick considered text messaging? Am I breaking a rule there? I don't know what the answer is. They are trying to get a hold of it, but there needs to be more of an in-depth investigation about this."

George Mason head basketball coach Jim Larranaga: I understand one of the major reasons (for wanting to ban texting) is the cost to prospects. I don't think parents want to be spending a fortune on their son's recruitment, and if coaches are constantly texting and he's constantly responding, that can run up a major bill. If it weren't for the expense, I'd be in favor of it because it's a simple form of communication. This generation of student spends a lot of time texting and e-mailing. I hope the NCAA continues to evaluate this."

Louisville head football coach Steve Kragthorpe: "I don't agree with banning it.

"I think it has gotten out of hand. There have been some infractions in terms of coaches not doing it but having other people do it. I don't know how a coach sends 150 text messages in one day when he's working in spring practice ... I think is that it has gotten out of hand. I think they need to put parameters on that.

"But it's a great way to communicate. It's a great way for coaches. It's a great way for them to know that we're interested in them. By the same token, it can get pretty expensive if you're not careful."

South Carolina head football coach Steve Spurrier: "I'm in favor of it, they should ban it. It's the same thing as making a call. If you can't make a call, you can't text message. But I really don't care one way or the other, to tell you the truth."

South Carolina recruiting coordinator David Reaves: "It's hard to say whether it's a good move or a bad move. The deal is, the kids are getting text messages all day long and a lot of kids are getting phone bills that are expensive and something they can't afford. If it passes the NCAA, we'll follow the guidelines.

"The kids do it too. They'll text you all day, too. Some will, some won't. I think (a ban on text messaging) will change the face of recruiting. If you can't text message, you're going back to your one phone call in the spring and then the different times when you can call them in the fall."

Georgia Tech head football coach Chan Gailey: "My opinion of it is it's a knee-jerk reaction. In two years, we're going to have something that takes the place of text messaging and we'll be looking to have a rule against whatever that is. And then it will change again two years after that. The ones that don't want text messaging, they can cut it off anytime they want to. I think it's an issue that we're making too much out of. If mamas and daddies don't want it, don't put it on your phone."

Maryland head football coach Ralph Friedgen: "I understand the expense that goes to prospects. I think that should be taken into consideration. I'm willing to adapt with whatever (the NCAA officials) feel is necessary to do. I think text messaging is probably like a phone call, and it probably should be considered as such, but I don't know how you monitor that."

North Carolina State head football coach Tom O'Brien: "A lot of (recruits) couldn't afford it. It became whether you could afford to do the text messaging or not. With that thought, it probably was a good rule for the high school athlete, but not something that we as coaches would have liked to have given up."

North Carolina head football coach Butch Davis: "One of the things you hear a great deal – you hear it from professors in college and you hear it from guidance counselors and teachers at school – is the enormous distraction it's causing with student-athletes at school. The text messages go on at all hours of the day, whether kids are sitting in class or not sitting in class. That's certainly one of the issues. The other one you hear from parents is the cost. The NCAA obviously has taken a look at that"

"My take on it is it's just going to make you work that much harder in recruiting. Just develop great relationships with players and capitalize on the opportunities you do get when you get kids on campus and have the opportunity to have them come to home football games to build a relationship."

Florida State head football coach Bobby Bowden: "Whatever they do is fine with me. As old as the history of football is, there's always been somebody who moves a step ahead. If you cut this out, they'll find antother way to do it. I'm sure if they cut out text messages, us coaches will come out with some other sort of messenger system. If they do cut it out, that's a start."

Clemson head football coach Tommy Bowden: "I just think it really infringes on their time. … Let's just say you have 15 coaches texting this one guy plus assistants plus friends plus family. I don't know when he has time for (anything else). High school academics is awfully important. I don't think it's fair to him or whatever school system they belong to. It would be tough to give their attention and best effort. … I just didn't think it created a healthy environment."




 

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