As if teenagers aren’t on their phones enough, a change in NCAA rules announced Friday could mean a whole lot of text messages for football recruits.
The Division I Council deregulated electronic communication in football, cross country, track and field and swimming and diving. The seemingly means recruits could receive unlimited texts from coaches and also opens communication across other social media. A Snapchat session with Nick Saban, perhaps?
Football was among the last sports with a prohibition on text messages; college basketball recruiting lifted its text message restriction three years ago. Text messaging in football was banned in 2007.
“This essentially allowed the inevitable,” 247Sports national scouting director Barton Simmons said. “This allows coaches to go ahead and cross that last hurdle and interact over text message.
“If a kid doesn’t want to talk to a coach, he can ignore the message. It’s a common sense deregulation because these guys are communicating regularly anyway. It’s not going to change or accelerate the recruiting process.”
An NCAA spokesperson said the change does not alter the timing of when a college coach can initiate contact with a potential recruit. That remains Sept. 1 of a player’s junior year. Players can reach out to coaches before then, but the coach cannot initiate the contact.
Simmons points out that the social media interaction might be more valuable than texting anyway, although he notes that once and a prospect and coach have connected, texting “eliminates the middleman.” After all, social media posts are going directly to the recruit’s phone just as texts would.
“In a lot of ways Twitter is better than texting because if you don’t have a kid’s phone number, you have to find it somewhere,” he said. “With Twitter, you can find him, follow him and he follows you back and you’re on the way.”
Ohio State coach Urban Meyer has been opposed to lifting the texting prohibition because while a prospect could opt not to respond to a coach’s text, he can’t block communication as he would be able to on Twitter or Facebook.
“I hear the stuff about texting,” Meyer said. on National Signing Day, according to cleveland.com. “I want to make this clear why — and this is a high school coach’s and high school player perspective — not college coaches. Who cares about college coaches? That’s not what this is about. It’s about them, and not screwing up a high school kid’s senior year or junior year. If you text someone, you can’t stop that, so you have a phone full of what? Text messages.
“If I don’t want to hear from that school they’ll keep hitting me because that’s their job, and usually it’s not them, it’s maybe an intern doing it. So here’s a kid in high school being bombarded with text messages sitting there doing this all day. If it’s social media, you can determine who you want to hear from.”