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Some coaches want to limit, not end, texting recruits

INDIANAPOLIS -- Some college football coaches think the NCAA
should find a middle ground on a proposed text messaging ban.



Grant Teaff, executive director of the American Football Coaches
Association, said Monday he had sent a letter appealing to the
NCAA's board of directors to consider a more moderate approach
rather than adopting the management council's proposal to eliminate
all forms of electronic communication between coaches and recruits.


If the board passes the measure Thursday, it would take effect
in August.


Teaff believes more debate would create a better solution.


"Hopefully, they'll delay the decision to come up with the type
of regulations that can be policed," Teaff said. "This all or
nothing approach is not the right answer."


Unlike restrictions on phone calls and in-person visits, there
are no coach limits on text messaging. E-mails and faxes would be
exempt from the new ban but would be limited by current NCAA
guidelines.


Teaff's solution is to allow text messages during certain parts
of the year, much like NCAA rules regulate other interaction. Teaff
said the high school and college coaches have been working on that
proposal for six months.


The NCAA was concerned that unlimited text messages created a
loophole that permitted coaches to send a message asking recruits
to call them -- calls that would violate NCAA rules if the coach
made the call.


NCAA spokesman Bob Williams said the board would review the
letter but declined comment because it had not yet been received.


While acknowledging limitations are needed, Teaff said coaches
use text messages for more than merely chatter. One benefit Teaff
cited was using the service to provide updates on scheduled campus
visits. Without them, Teaff said coaches might have to call high
school coaches, who would then relay that information to players
and their parents.


Jim Haney, executive director of the National Association of
Basketball Coaches, does not plan to take a position before
Thursday's board of directors vote because the coaches are split
about 50-50 on the issue. Haney said assistant coaches, who usually
do the most recruiting, support texting in greater numbers.


"I think on the basketball side of the proposal, it would be
more toward limiting the hours of the day," Haney said. "Things
need to make sense, like texting during the school day and such. I
think there is a desire to support something that allows you to
text message but would limit the hours."


After the management council's approval last week, outgoing
chairwoman Kate Hickey said she expected the measure to pass unless
there was an outcry from coaches.


Count Teaff among that group along with many of the coaches he
represents.


"It's the most effective way to immediately communicate with
prospects and their families without being intrusive," Texas coach
Mack Brown said last week. "With the limitations on phone calls
and in-person visits, a personal text is an efficient and
convenient way to answer questions, have a quick discussion or just
stay in touch."


Last week, Anna Chappell, a former women's basketball player at
Arizona, told the management council that athletes have two primary
concerns -- expenses and privacy. Current rules place no limitations
on times, dates or the number of text messages sent and some cell
phone plans require the person receiving the message to pay the
bill.


"All the mass texts were a pain to deal with, but it was a lot
better than getting a ton of phone calls and allowed me to talk to
the coaches I wanted to and just delete the others," Texas
cornerback Ben Wells said. "Text messaging also made it easier to
communicate with the coaches and get questions answered quickly and
easily."


The NCAA could rescind the rule later, too.


But Teaff doesn't want to take that chance. He'd rather the
board table the motion, look for other answers and come up with a
compromise.


"I'm never surprised at what the management council does," he
said. "I had hoped they wouldn't forward it, but they did. So
we're asking the board to wait until we can come up with a workable
solution."