When Recruiting and Social Networking Collide

The NCAA has been working hard to keep up with the advancement of technology as it relates to communication avenues and their recruiting bylaws.

For a few years, phone calls from coaches were not allowed during non-contact periods. However, coaches could sent text messages. Those were before the unlimited texting plans came out, and I heard stories of prospects' parents getting phone bills for hundreds of dollars.

More and more, college coaches are relying on social networks to do their homework on prospects as well as communicate. As we join more social networks with cool new applications for communicating, I suspect the NCAA will continue to make amendments to their bylaws to ensure that coaches are not finding "loop holes" to contact student-athletes.

With the meteoric rise of Facebook and others like MySpace, the ability to message people using their internal email platforms has become popular, yet cumbersome at the same time. I find myself trying to remember if I sent a message through standard email or through one of the social network sites. Who is contacting me, where and how? It reminds me of the scene from the movie He's Just Not That Into You, with Drew Barrymore, when she mentions that going around checking all of the different portals just to get rejected by seven different technologies is exhausting.

Well, the NCAA has adapted accordingly. The NCAA Division I Bylaw, states that, "email is not limited to a traditional email service provided by an institution, website or Internet service provider. Therefore, it is permissible for an athletics department staff member to send electronically transmitted correspondence to a prospective student-athlete using a social networking website's (e.g., MySpace, Facebook) email feature. All other electronically transmitted correspondence including, but not limited to, text messaging, instant messenger, chat rooms or message boards (e.g., a user's wall) within a social networking website or through other services or applications remain impermissible.

For example, a coaching staff member with a MySpace or Facebook account may send electronically transmitted correspondence to a prospective student-athlete's MySpace or Facebook account using the email inbox feature located on that user's profile page. However, a coaching staff member may not send electronic correspondence to a prospective student-athlete via the comments feature on MySpace or the wall-to-wall feature on Facebook."

It goes on further by adding that it is permissible for a prospective student-athlete's name and/or picture to appear on an athletics department staff member's profile page of a social networking website to identify the prospective student-athlete as a "friend" of the athletics department staff member. Institutions should note that the identification of the prospective student-athlete as a "friend" on an athletics staff members profile page confirms only the institution's potential recruitment of that individual. However, institutions are reminded they may not make any public comments about the prospective student-athlete's ability, the contribution that the prospective student-athlete might make to the institution's team or the likelihood of the prospective student-athlete's signing with that institution.

That fact the colleges can contact you through social networks is good in that it provides another avenue for contacting prospects. However, it is a reminder to be careful about what you are posting to your social network profiles. College coaches are out there looking.

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