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The latest cool tool in the high school recruiting wars calls to mind nothing quite so much as the notes passed between giddy adolescents:
These are among the stock banalities that Colorado receivers coach Darian Hagan says he might text-message recruits during a typical week. "A lot of [recruits] prefer text-messaging" to an actual conversation, says Hagan, who says they are "less time consuming" than a phone call. While coaches are limited to placing one call per week to the schoolboys who quicken their pulses, the NCAA ruled in August 2004 that text messages are "general correspondence," no longer counting as phone calls but as letters or e-mails, on which there are no restrictions. Thus was born a loophole recruiters have enthusiastically--even frantically--exploited. Some top recruits report receiving 40 texts a day. (One kid told The Kansas City Star that he got beeped late at night. Assuming it was his girlfriend, he responded, "I love you, good night," without reading the message--which happened to be from a Creighton basketball coach.)
But not all the persuasive text messages come from coaches. Myron Rolle, a Florida State--bound defensive back from New Jersey, told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that during his official visit to Tallahassee, he received the following text message:
"Incredible," says Peter Roby, director of Northeastern University's Center for the Study of Sport in Society. Roby believes that when it comes to wooing blue-chips, coaches need to give their thumbs a rest. The reason for limiting calls, he notes, "was to allow these kids to have a normal high school experience." Bombarding them with text messages, he says, "violates the spirit of what [coaches] claim to be in favor of--being less intrusive. Somebody's got to stand up and say, 'We need to do this differently.'"
That somebody should be the NCAA. Maybe Myles Brand, that organization's president, could shoot a text message to every athletic department--and governor's mansion--in the land, telling them to back off.