Some coaches want to limit, not end, texting recruits

Updated: April 23, 2007, 4:01 PM ET
Associated Press

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

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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."

Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press