<
>

Thirty schools who signed petition will await Thursday hearing on texting ban

INDIANAPOLIS -- The NCAA's board of directors has heard
coaches and schools complaining about the new ban on sending text
messages to recruits. Now the committee could change everything.

On Thursday, the NCAA is scheduled to hear an appeal, signed by at least 30 schools, to overturn this spring's decision of an
outright ban on text messages between coaches and recruits.

"My hope is they will kick it back to the NCAA and form a task
force that can come up with a good, solid rule about text
messaging," said Grant Teaff, executive director of the American
Football Coaches Association. "I don't think anyone wants totally
open, unabated text messaging. I don't know a soul who wants
that."

But many coaches represented by Teaff's organization and college basketball assistants, who do the bulk of recruiting, believe the
ban is detrimental because its one of the primary forms of
communication among teenagers.

The board approved the rule in April after hearing two primary
concerns: the sometimes high cost to recruits and the constant
drumbeat of messages, which some called bordering on an invasion of
privacy.

Now the board has three options and could reverse course.

•  It can affirm the decision, keeping a rule that went into
effect Aug. 1 until another vote at January's annual NCAA
convention.

•  It can approve emergency legislation to amend the rule,
conceivably pushing back the date it takes affect.

•  Or it can overturn the rule, wiping it completely off the
books and reverting to a previous rule that placed virtually no
limits on how or when text messages could be sent. Coaches would,
however, still have to abide by the "dead periods" when they are
not permitted to contact recruits.

There is recent precedent for overturning such a decision.

In January, NCAA members voted to rescind the graduate transfer rule, which allowed postgraduate students to transfer without
having to sit out a full year.

In January 2006, the first time this appeals process went into
effect, the schools also voted to allow an increase in women's
soccer scholarships.

But schools have rejected four other appeals in the past two
years, and nobody is guessing which way the board will rule
Thursday. It will a take a simple majority of the 18-member board
to overturn the texting ban.

"I sort of have a suspicion that it will either get overturned
now, turned over to a committee or another conference will offer a
proposal later to change it," Teaff said during a telephone
interview. "I think when presidents are requesting something of
other presidents, I think they'll take a serious look at it."

There still is not unanimity, even among coaches, though.

Jim Haney, executive director of the National Association of
Basketball Coaches, said Wednesday his group has remained neutral
on the position because a coaching survey last fall showed almost a
50-50 split.

"We've not been active on this issue," he said. "We've been
sitting more on the sidelines, so to speak. I think the board of
directors has options and other than that, I really don't have any
insights into it."

That's not the case with the football coaches.

While Teaff said he has not spoken to any board members, he has sent a letter outlining the reasons his coaches oppose an outright ban.

Now the NCAA's board of directors must decide who has made the best points.

"You know the transfer rule was handled in the same way, and I
think this is the best way the NCAA has ever handled this kind of
stuff," Teaff said. "At least 30-some presidents requested a
review, so I think they have to take that seriously."