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 NCAA officially bans text messaging in recruiting 
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Post NCAA officially bans text messaging in recruiting
Jeremy Crabtree -

Text messaging in recruiting is now officially a thing of the past.
Citing the preference of its student-athletes, the NCAA Division I Board of Directors voted 13-3 on Thursday to prohibit the use of text messaging in recruiting. The proposal, which takes effect Aug. 1, eliminates all forms of electronic communication with the exception of e-mail and faxes. The Board left open the possibility of considering proposals related to this issue in the future.

"This doesn't mean to say that the board fails to recognize that text messaging is a reality in the communication world," said David Berst, NCAA vice president. "I believe it will take the next year without it to decide something that is workable.

"What we have was a recognition that we had a dilemma and student-athletes expressed some concern as coaches have voiced strong support. The presidents think that there is some solution in the middle."

The vote for the outright ban by the board was no surprise after the Management Council pushed forward the proposal for approval last Tuesday. The ban was originally suggested by the Ivy Group, and won approval over another plan that would merely limit text and instant messaging to certain days of the week and particular hours.

The text-messaging ban has been the center of major controversy the past two weeks. A number of coaches in all sports have spoken out for and against the move by the NCAA. Grant Teaff, executive director of the American Football Coaches Association, sent a letter Monday appealing to the board of directors to consider a more moderate approach rather than adopting the management council's proposal.

Grant Teaff's appeal on behalf of the American Football Coaches Association fell on deaf ears.

Today's college recruiters rely on BlackBerrys, Sidekicks, Treos, e-mails and instant messages to keep up with prospects. A number of coaching organizations have tried to come up with alternate plans to the outright ban.

One of the biggest proponents for the use of text messaging is Rob Ianello, the chairman of the Division I assistant coaches committee for the American Football Coaches Association. Ianello, who is also the recruiting coordinator at Notre Dame, worked with his committee for nearly two years trying to formulate a number of different alternatives to an outright ban.

"We're extremely disappointed," Ianello said on April 18 when the Management Council suggested the new restrictions. "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 shortsighted 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."

Hawaii defensive line coach Jeff Reinbold, who has been a head coach in the Canadian Football League and in NFL Europe, said the text ban punishes the non-BCS Conference schools that are fighting to compete with the big boys.

"We're going to have to do a better job than those other schools and do more because of these limitations now when it comes to building a relationship," Reinbold said. "It's going to make it tougher for a program like ours that's fighting to make the jump into the top 25. It's these type of limitations that kind of hold schools like us back and allow the fat to get fatter."

But there are coaches who support the move.

"It's amazing right now how that has become a part of the way our young people are growing up, and I am concerned about it to say the least," Iowa football coach Kirk Ferentz said on national signing day in February. "I think it is one of the silliest rules that the NCAA allows coaches to text message young people. Don't they have better things to do, like coach their players?"

Despite the board's findings, not all student-athletes are in favor of the ban.

Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz is in favor of the ban.

"For me, it was easier to text message with a coach than it was to talk to him on the phone," said Class of 2007 four-star tight end Christian Ballard, who recently signed with Iowa. "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."

Penn State wide receiver Derrick Williams,'s No. 1 prospect in 2005, understands the thought process behind the ban. "I'm kind of for (the ban),." Williams said. "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."

The move obviously dramatically changes the way some college coaches will approach the recruiting process. Recruiting and technology have been attached at the hip since cell phones began to outnumber home computers in prospects' homes.

"My opinion of it is it's a knee-jerk reaction," Georgia Tech football coach Chan Gailey said. "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."

Several coaches said they plan to spend more time writing personal letters to the players, and other coaches have said their schools have already shifted money around in their recruiting budgets for more mail-outs to prospects and new equipment for their coaches to send e-mails instead of text messages.

Reinbold said he anticipates most schools going back to "old-school recruiting," but there will be schools searching for the next technological breakthrough to help them get an advantage.

"As competitive as recruiting is, the places that do an outstanding job – places like Florida, USC and Ole Miss – those schools will lead the way in finding another avenue to access these players," Reinbold said.

"For all of us maybe in a different financial situation than those schools, we're going to have to make sure we hit every avenue that we can to keep our name in front of the kids. In a way, it's going to come down to the old style of recruiting where you're finding creative ways to keep your name there in front of the prospects. Whether that's through their girlfriends, high school coaches, a friend or somebody in their family, you're going to have to go back to how things were when you had to hustle harder than the other guy."

Until the ban kicks in August, expect coaches to be working their thumbs overtime, pounding out text message after text message and doing everything they can to use the soon-to-be outlawed technology.

"This generation of student spends a lot of time texting and e-mailing," George Mason basketball coach Jim Larranaga said. "I hope the NCAA continues to evaluate this."

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Good for the NCAA.

Now if they rid of all cell phone use in vehicles then I'll be VERY happy.

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