The latest cool
tool in the high school recruiting wars calls to mind nothing quite so much as
the notes passed between giddy adolescents:
How'd the game go?
You're my main guy.
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
you're looking at Florida State. [FSU President] T.K. Wetherell and I are
friends. When you come to Tallahassee again, let's hook up with each other.
-- Jeb Bush
"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
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.