Coaches discuss recruiting rule

Updated: February 9, 2009, 5:29 PM ET
Associated Press

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- A coach travels hundreds of miles to watch a high school student play basketball. Then after the game a dangerous thing happens: The player and his parents walk up and try to have a conversation.

What's a coach to do?

According to the NCAA, the coach must immediately end the encounter if it's during noncontact periods, and most Big 12 coaches say it's one that's nearly impossible to follow.

"It happens a lot," Oklahoma coach Jeff Capel said. "The parents may wave at you and say hello. The kid may walk by and speak and say hello. You don't engage in conversation or you very politely say, 'Hey, look, we're not allowed to talk to you right now.' Then you move on."

During Monday's Big 12 conference call, most coaches said encounters such as that involving Kansas coach Bill Self and one of the nation's top high school prospects at a recent tournament in southwest Missouri are common.

"I think you'd shut all the schools down in the country if you didn't allow that," said Texas A&M coach Mark Turgeon. "I've seen a lot of it happen, and I've done it a few times."

The encounters can be so innocent, the coach doesn't even know it's happening, said Baylor's Scott Drew.

"You can be coming out of a restroom after a game and a parent or somebody could be coming in and say, 'Hey, thanks for coming,'" said Drew. "And you say thanks and not even know if it was the parent. Or after the game's over and you're talking to the coach and the kid walked by and said, 'Hey, coach.'"

Self has admitted he shook hands with prospect John Wall, a 6-foot-4 guard from Word of God Christian Academy in Raleigh, N.C., and the pair briefly spoke after a tournament last month. Self has said Wall, who is rated the No. 1 overall recruit in the class of 2009 by Rivals.com, approached him while he was talking to coaches.

Kansas said it would look into the matter. But most of Self's conference rivals did not seem to think a major infraction had been made.

"I think that was, in my opinion, blown a little bit out of proportion," Capel said Monday. "As a coach, you're kind of caught in between a fine line because you don't want to be rude. If you're rude, then maybe you don't get that kid. But you hope the family understands and the kid understands."

Capel said many parents may not understand the rule or think it's too silly to obey.

"A mother may come over, and maybe you've developed a pretty good rapport, a good relationship, and say, 'I know the rules, but I'm still going to hug you. That's how I was raised.'

"It makes it a little bit uncomfortable, but at the same time, what are you going to do? Do you turn that hug away? Do you just turn and not speak? It's a really fine line for coaches. You go see a game, you stay after to speak to the coach because you want to have a good relationship with the coach and if you stay and speak with the coach then you may happen to speak to a kid."

Texas coach Rick Barnes said there have been times when he thought someone might have felt offended because he had declined to have a conversation.

"Sometimes you say, 'Hey, look, I can't talk to you,' and they say, 'Oh, don't worry about it. It's no big deal with us.' But you've got to say, 'Well, I can't do that,"' Barnes said. "And some people just don't understand it. But what happened with Bill, that's happened with everybody that's been out there recruiting."


Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press