Arizona basketball: Unlimited contact with recruits begins
Jun 15, 2012 (The Arizona Daily Star - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
A nightmare ends today for UA compliance director Bill Morgan. But it may have only begun for college basketball coaches -- and the recruits who deal with them.
The NCAA will allow unlimited contact via phone and text from coaches to incoming high school juniors and seniors starting today. That means Morgan no longer has to monitor the phone records of UA coaches to make sure they aren't in violation -- a task he has spent countless hours on -- but it also means coaches must now walk the fine line between showing sufficient interest in and annoying a player.
"I think you basically have got to know your audience," said Morgan, UA's associate AD for compliance. "If he doesn't want to be bothered, don't bother him. If he wants to be shown a lot of love, you show a lot of love."
The spirit of the rule change, according to Missouri athletic director Mike Alden, chairman of the NCAA Leadership Council, is to strengthen the relationship between coaches and recruits. This could lessen the effect of summer-league coaches and other handlers in the recruiting process.
"It appeared that we had previously regulated ourselves away from that relationship building with these young people, unintentionally allowing third parties greater access than our coaches," Alden said in an NCAA.org story.
Until today, men's basketball coaches were restricted in their communication outside designated contact periods. High school juniors could be called only once a month and seniors could be called twice a week but text messages were prohibited to anyone.
Emails were allowed because they were considered the equivalent of a letter.
Here's a breakdown of the new rule, which is only for men's basketball but may soon also become the standard in other sports:
How to do it: Unlimited contact via phone or any electronic means is allowed starting June 15 after a prospect finishes his sophomore year in high school. That includes telephone, text messaging, private messages via Twitter, Facebook or other social media, and video calls such as Skype and FaceTime.
Public messages remain prohibited because coaches are not allowed to publicize their recruiting efforts.
Who can do it: Only full-time coaches can contact recruits. For UA, that's head coach Sean Miller and his three assistant coaches. Administrative and all other program aides are not permitted to.
Why do it: Coaches can build stronger relationships with players, and get to know them better during the recruiting process, which could lead to more successful recruiting for hardworking coaches. It may also reduce transfers, since both the coaching staff and the player may know more about what they are getting into.
"It does give you a chance to build a deeper relationship with a prospect, and hopefully, that is to our advantage," Miller said through a spokesman.
Why not do it: Coaches risk turning off a prospect if they inundate him with calls and text messages. Top 2013 prospect Aaron Harrison of Texas, for one, has already told Scout.com that he's "not excited about" the rule and others may have similar sentiments about their privacy.
"It'll be based on each individual person," said Memphis coach Josh Pastner, the former UA assistant who is noted for his communication. "Some might be turned off if you call or text too many times. If you called (ex-UA star) Chase Budinger every day, he'd probably turn against you.
"But on the other hand, it's the onus of the prospect to tell the coach what he wants. That will help people on both sides."
Gary McKnight, coach of several former UA players and UA prospects such as 2014 wing Stanley Johnson at California's Mater Dei High School, said he's told his players to tell coaches upfront that they will accept calls only on Tuesdays and Thursday -- or any designated times they choose.
With some restriction, McKnight said, the rule could actually be helpful.
"It puts the kids and coaches in contact with each other," McKnight said. "And one thing about texts -- they don't have to answer it. A kid could just look at it. And these kids get so many texts from each other anyway. I don't think it'll make that much difference."
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