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

Updated: August 8, 2007, 8:20 PM ET
Associated Press

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."

Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press