There are always ways around a phone ban

Updated: May 26, 2006, 3:07 PM ET
By Mark Kreidler | Special to ESPN.com

Think a coach can't get in touch with recruits because of a pesky NCAA ban against phone calls? Think again. A sample letter details how:

Dear (Valued Recruit),

Can you read this? You can? Great! We'll have Coach in touch with you shortly.

It'll be on the level! Promise.

Sampson sanctioned
The NCAA banned new Indiana coach Kelvin Sampson from calling recruits and making off-campus visits for a year, ruling Sampson and his staff at Oklahoma deliberately broke NCAA rules by making 577 extra phone calls to basketball prospects.

The decision, announced by the NCAA's infractions committee, also requires Indiana to adopt self-imposed restrictions put in place by Oklahoma. Those sanctions include a ban on Sampson being paid performance bonuses for next season, but Indiana will suffer no scholarship penalties. Story
• Katz: Sanctions hardly substantion

After all, you're a fantastic basketball talent -- hasn't everybody told you that? -- and there's no doubt you've got access to a computer. We'll take a shot here and guess that your e-mail is functional.

And as long as you've got those things going, why, the NCAA doesn't have a problem with Coach getting in touch for a chat or three. No issues!

As near as can be ascertained from the recent "sanctions" you may have heard about, Coach is going to be prohibited for a while from picking up a phone and giving you a call. That would be flouting the rules, and neither the NCAA nor this Division I institution will stand for that.

It's why the organization went after Coach in the first place -- too many doggone phone calls! Is caring about an athlete that much really so wrong? Still, we stand foursquare behind enforcement of the regulations, even when they're (wink, wink) so minor in nature.

Fortunately, and please don't take this the wrong way, the NCAA is governing out of a covered wagon. Coach cannot technically make a call, it's true -- but don't think for a moment that just because he can't call you, Midwest U. has lost even a smidgen of interest in you!

Thanks to the "rules," we've got an almost unlimited number of ways to show you that.

Have you checked your in-box lately? Go ahead! We'll wait.

See? Isn't it great to be loved? Wouldn't every athlete want to get his own e-mail sent especially by the head coach?

Check your phone. See that text message? Sure, it's from Coach, and it's allowed! He's playing by the rules and letting you know that Midwest U. is ready to take your basketball career to the next level. You can feel good about this!

Are you aware of our toll-free incoming phone number, 1-888-LETTER-OF-INTENT? Of course you are! It's right there in the text message! Go ahead -- use it! Coach will be waiting to pick up the phone on the other end. Nothing in the rules says he can't answer the phone! He just can't dial it.

If that's not embracing the "spirit" of the NCAA sanctions, I don't know what is. And you know you can trust me on this. Shoot, we've known each other ever since I started following you around to AAU events when you were 12!

I know you've been wondering how things are going, so let me just say that it's an exciting ride being part of a full-blown Division I powerhouse after all those years beating the bushes, scaring up scholarship talent for the programs that couldn't be everywhere at once. When Coach suddenly said last month I was the right man for the job of associate assistant coach/recruiting and development, I knew I had found my place!

I think Coach realizes that you have all my numbers, so don't be afraid to use them! As an official representative of Midwest U., I am free and clear to take your calls any time you want to make them. Why, Coach might even be standing nearby when your incoming call lights up my RAZR! And if he's nearby, he might even be able to hear what you're saying if we should happen to go on speakerphone! Hint, hint!

These can be confusing, trying times, (Valued Recruit). I know you'll be struggling to make your decision as early-commitment day approaches. Just know that the minute you step on our campus -- and the NCAA can't prevent that! -- Coach will be waiting for you.

If you don't believe it, check your e-mail again! See that? Two messages in four minutes! And Coach is just getting warmed up! If that isn't a school that loves you while playing by the rules, I don't know what is!

Mark Kreidler of the Sacramento Bee is a regular contributor to ESPN.com and ESPN's Cold Pizza. Reach him at mkreidler@sacbee.com.

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