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Talk hoops all year long in Luke Winn's blog, a journal of commentary, news and reader-driven discussions about the college game.
8/02/2006 10:58:00 AM

Moving On With MySpace

MySpace screenshot
A screenshot of Patterson's MySpace page.

Digging into the mailbag ... Last week I penned a column about the potentially large number of recruiting violations occurring between alleged "boosters" and recruits on MySpace.com pages. It was based on the fact that Kentucky had self-reported violations after its fans had posted recruiting-related messages on the MySpace page of Patrick Patterson, a five-star power forward out of West Virginia. And it pointed out that if UK's "violation" was actually punishable, a number of other major schools -- from UNC, to UCLA, to Kansas -- were in similar trouble due to the actions of their Internet-savvy (and overzealous) fans.

I figured I'd run a handful of responses -- with my comments -- here in the blog. (If you're unfamiliar with the topic, read this first.)

Don't you find the behavior of these fans a little, um, creepy?
-- Patrick Johnson, Ooltewah, Tenn.

Um, yeah. While simply being on MySpace is not creepy (fellow SI.commer Stew Mandel just joined, and is a 1,200-friend star), tracking down 17-year-olds and enticing them with photos of the dance team, as well as sexually suggestive comments (as the UK fans did to Patterson) is more than a little weird. While some recruits may be swayed by those methods, Patterson said he was unaffected; I think if I were in his shoes, I'd find it a tad uncomfortable that fans were already being so intrusive into my personal life. And c'mon -- Patterson, who has since made his profile private, is old enough to already be aware of the existence of sports-loving co-eds at major state schools. As his mom, Tywanna, told the Lexington Herald-Leader (seriously, I'm not making this up), "You can get that anywhere. You don't have to go to Kentucky to get hotties. You can get hotties everywhere."

If the NCAA is going to consider MySpace comments to be improper recruitment by "boosters," then my prescription is to encourage as many fans as possible to use MySpace and leave such messages. Only when the NCAA realizes their regulations are ineffectual and ill-suited to reality will they finally consider meaningful reform. Asking fans to cut back on MySpace messages only begs the NCAA rules committee to churn out more ridiculous, unenforceable, and unfair nonsense for ADs and coaches to deal with.
-- Andrew, Long Beach, Calif.

I hope it wouldn't take a deluge of (creepy) fan-on-recruit MySpace commenting to convince the NCAA that any rules dealing with that site are futile. Then again, you're talking about an organization that has waited until 2006 to address the concept of the Internet in its recruiting rules, so it would be wrong to assume the NCAA actually has a solid grasp on how to regulate new technologies. Perhaps Alaskan Sen. Ted Stevens -- the guy who recently described the Internet as "a series of tubes" -- could be brought in to advise at the September meeting.

I practice entertainment law, and I have to ask myself how the NCAA can really monitor this and patrol it effectively. Is not MySpace like real life? What would happen to a recruit if he lived in the area of a big school and all the fans wanted him to stay at home and pressed him on the street every day? What then? Those fans are NOT boosters. They're fans. Secondly, what gives the NCAA ANY jurisdiction over what happens on MySpace? It is not as if the NCAA has any affiliation over MySpace. They are all separate, PRIVATE entities.
-- Anthony Verna, Hoboken, N.J.

Fans deliver verbal recruiting messages all the time. Remember last year, when Jon Scheyer, the prep scoring star who played for Bruce Weber's brother, Dave, in Glenbrook, Ill., picked Duke over the Illini? Scheyer was forced to hear Illini fans' pleas on a near daily basis before he made us his mind. If you adopt Kentucky's hard-line interpretation that any fan who involves him/herself in the recruiting process is considered a booster, even that could be called improper contact. It's all very similar to a MySpace comment -- except that the Web stuff falls under the heading of "written communication."

As for the NCAA's jurisdiction over MySpace, it has none. But it can react to what happens there, and hand out punishments accordingly. Let's hope it just leaves the site alone.

posted by Luke Winn | View comments (4) |


Posted: 12:46 PM   by Anonymous Ian Blake
What would stop Duke fans from bombarding a UNC recruit with info on UNC, and vice versa, just to screw with their opponents. Myspace accounts can be made quickly, and without any real contact information. Isn't that just openiong a Pandora's Box of confusion? Well I have to go mobilize my college fans message board to go get Myspace accounts and shut down our rivals recruiting base. See you later...
Posted: 4:31 PM   by Anonymous Anonymous
This is just one small detail that is part of the larger problem of the NCAA.

Don't want college athletes to make money or receive any special treatment different from the regular student body? Fine. But is it fair that these exceptional athletes are getting nothing (except an education--in SOME cases) while the NCAA makes millions?
Posted: 1:32 PM   by Anonymous Anonymous
Thanks to your recent article about Myspace recruiting, I was able to find #4 overall Kyle Singler and help deter him away from his probable commitment to Duke, hopefully. Until the NCAA does something, you will see me badgering, let me rephrase that, persuading recruits to go to my college of choice.
Posted: 3:59 PM   by Anonymous Anonymous
Who cares what we say to college recruits on myspace? What are you going to do to stop it, make all recruits stop getting on myspace? It is no different than the recruit's family or friends giving him advice on where to go. What's next, you're going to tell recruits not to talk to their friends and family?