We here at USA TODAY High School Sports love a good-natured debate. Every Wednesday, we'll invite you into our sometimes serious, sometimes light-hearted (but always passionate) takes on various topics that pertain to high school sports, and feature commentary from high school athletes. We invite everyone to sound off in the comments and on Twitter and Facebook. Go ahead, tell us why we're wrong. We'll try not to take it personally.
Last week we asked, "What's the best high school mascot?" This week we tackle something more serious.
QUESTION: DO YOU THINK HIGH SCHOOL COACHES SHOULD BE ALLOWED TO RECRUIT?
Jim Halley, Reporter
Should high school coaches be allowed to recruit? In case no one's noticed, they already are, at private and public high schools. In a release USA Basketball sent out on Tuesday, most of the high school players for their Men's Developmental National Team mini-camp (freshmen and sophomores) didn't live in the same city that they go to high school in.
A quick glance at any list of top recruits will show that many of them, particularly in basketball, are on their second or third high school by the time they reach their senior year. While many of these top athletes transfer on their own, without any encouragement, there's clearly plenty of recruiting to go around. As to the question of whether high school coaches should be recruiting, that depends on what level of recruiting we're talking about. It's one thing to introduce yourself to a player and explain your coaching philsophy and another to help a family facilitate a move to your school district. That's just unseemly and changes coaches from being teachers to touts.
Jason Jordan, Reporter
I do. The reality is that it goes on now anyway and a lot of times it’s the players that reach out to the coaches initially. I’ve seen it so many times and if the players aren’t happy in the their current situations, I think they’ve got the right to leave. I don’t see a problem with a coach following up and selling a kid that wanted to come anyway.
Sarah Gearhart, Reporter
I don't think high school coaches should poach. Competition is more authentic when a team works with what they've got. Recruiting unequalizes the playing field and takes away from an athlete having a pure high school athletic experience, which is increasingly being treated like a business. It's a testament to a coach's own talent if he's able to turn an average athlete into a great one. That's the role of a coach.
Scott Allen, Content Producer
It's a difficult thing to police — and it obviously goes on now — but that's not a good enough reason to allow it. I can understand the argument for why private school coaches should be allowed to recruit athletes, just as the admissions office might recruit students who don't play sports. As Jim mentioned, there are different levels of recruiting. If a family wants to move to a different school district to play for a particular team, that's their prerogative, but I don't think a high school coach should be involved in the process.
David Scott, Content Manager
Heck no! You should play with the kids that are in your area. High school football is becoming so loaded with prep school domination that it’s impossible for a public school to maintain success. If all schools had open enrollment then that would be a different story, but I do not like the idea of coaches “openly” recruiting high schoolers. They're students, after all.
NOW LET'S SEE WHAT A FEW STUDENT-ATHLETES (AND A COACH) HAVE TO SAY…
Jahlil Okafor, Basketball, Class of 2014, Whitney Young (Chicago)
Yeah, to a certain extent. Nothing extreme like college coaches, but I think they should be allowed to talk to eighth graders thinking about high school. But not high school guys that are already in school.
Hallice Cooke, Basketball, Class of 2013, St. Anthony's (Jersey City, N.J.)
I don't think it's necessary for high school coaches to recruit because if your team is good and your program wins and competes, then the talent will come by itself. So I don't think high school coaches should recruit unless they're being paid like a collegiate coach.
JaMauri Bogan, Football, Class of 2014, Union (Union, N.J.)
I believe that kids should get recruited to play high school football because it prepares them for when they make a college decision. What high school you do attend is just as important as your college choice. After being recruited for high school, you will now know what to expect from a college recruiter.
Xavier Rathan-Mayes, Basketball, Class of 2013, Huntington Prep (Huntington, W.Va.)
Yeah, why not. I think it would be a lot more fun. I don’t see anything wrong with that I think that there would be a lot stronger teams out there. I don’t see a problem with it.
Tray Matthews, Football, Class of 2013, Newnan (Newnan, Ga.)
No, not at all. That takes the fun out of it. Stacking teams isn’t fair. It needs to be even. I think the top teams would just blow everybody else out and that’s not really fair.
Isaiah Lewis, Basketball, Class of 2013, Christ the King (Middle Village, N.Y.)
Yeah I don’t see a problem with it. I think it would make things even more competitive.
Caryn Jarocki, Girls Basketball Coach, Highlands Ranch (Colo.)
I think that either everyone should be able to recruit or no one should be able to recruit. [Editor's Note: Jarocki said there shouldn't be a difference between public and private schools in terms of recruiting.] In Colorado, if kids come up to you, you're not supposed to have contact with them. You're supposed to refer them to your athletic director or principal. The best way you can recruit is by having a winning program, not by asking kids to come to your school. Unfortunately, if you have a winning program, other people are likely to make excuses and say that you're winning because you're recruiting.
Tell us in the comments or @USATODAYhss: Should high school coaches be allowed to recruit?