A Message to the NCAA: Quit Meddling

Too many bureaucrats. Too much time.

How else to explain the motivation behind the NCAA’s proposal to ban text messaging in recruiting?

Last week, the NCAA Division I management council recommended that coaches be banned from sending text messages to prospective recruits’ cell phones. Restrictions on in-person visits and phone calls are already in place, but for the past several years, text messaging was fair game.

Not anymore.

The NCAA Board of Directors is expected to approve the restriction during a meeting Thursday. The motivation behind the ban? Simple. The NCAA apparently thinks unlimited text messaging is intrusive. Escalating cell phone bills were also cited.

Here’s a solution for all those five-star jocks, who may have to seek counseling after being harassed by compulsive football college coaches.

  1. Turn off your phone.
  2. Tell the nervous Nelly coaches to knock it off. So maybe it’s unrealistic for an 18-year-old kid to say no, but the parents or high school coach can confront this issue.

There might be a few schools who can’t help but let their fingers do the walking, but would you want to play for those who push the issue? High-profile recruits and their parents have leverage. They need to use it.

The anti-text movement came from the Ivy League. Yes, the Ivy League. As if their recruits are being badgered. Isn’t this like asking the resident porcupine to amend the laws of the jungle?

In fairness, a deluge of text messages can be obnoxious, but that’s how kids communicate these days. Their parents used pen and paper; they punch the send key.

It’s quick, easy and efficient. There’s no speed limit on the information highway and it can be a good investment.

With restrictions on phone calls and face-to-face time, player and coach can get to know each other better before a scholarship offer is made _ and accepted. Better communication leads to fewer recruiting mistakes and fewer transfers.

Furthermore, it’s cost efficient, offering a smidgen of parity on a playing field that’s tilted toward the BCS conferences. What was cheaper last fall?  Text-messaging Jimmy Clausen or a few round-trip plane tickets to Southern California?

Besides, aren’t there bigger issues for the NCAA to tackle? How about a Division I football playoff system? Or fixing the inequity in gender equity? How about recalibrating the APR?

Of course, that would make too much sense, and it would involve tough decisions and focused leadership, not exactly NCAA trademarks. No, the NCAA digs in on the text messaging crisis.

It’s micro-management at its purest form, a way to look productive without deciding anything substantive. It’s safe. It’s easy. And it’s pointless.

The board of directors will ponder the proposal today. Here’s hoping they reject it or amend it. Then maybe the NCAA can invest its time on bigger problems.