Elite prospects take measures to limit coaches’ contact
USA TODAY High School Sports
Andrew and Aaron Harrison figured they could handle it. After all, what were a few more text messages for the 18-year-old twins, even if they are two of the most elite high school hoopers in the country?
That’s why when the NCAA introduced a new rule change on June 15 that, among other things, allowed college basketball coaches to make unlimited phone calls and send unlimited text messages to recruits, Andrew and Aaron didn’t give it a second thought.
“We really didn’t think it would be that serious,” Aaron said. “We were definitely wrong.”
On the first day, Aaron got more than 60 phone calls and 300 texts from college coaches. Same for Andrew.
After another day of what Aaron referred to as a “ridiculous amount of calls and texts”, the twin senior guards, who eventually committed to Kentucky in early October, changed their numbers and funneled all contact through their father Aaron Sr.
“It’s too stressful,” Aaron Jr. said. “You just get overwhelmed and it shouldn’t be like that. It’s too much. Why coaches just text constantly and call all the time is crazy to me, even if they can. You really have to limit that contact if you want to have some type of a normal life.”
It’s an approach that dozens of elite players around the country had taken even before the rule change, or have adopted since its inception.
Simeon (Chicago) wing Jabari Parker, a consensus top five senior, took the same approach as the Harrison twins, changing his number and letting his father, Sonny, handle all calls and texts.
Tyus Jones took a more proactive approach.
As the top player in the 2014 class, Jones, a point guard at Apple Valley (Apple Valley, Minn.), knew that having more than 30 offers spelled a recipe for disaster.
“Me and my family talked to the coaches before June 15 and told them that they didn’t have to go overboard with calling and texting,” Jones said. “It didn’t really make sense because we knew where they all stood. It wasn’t necessary to hear from them every day.”
Not every college coach gets sore thumbs from sending dozens of texts. Some take the “hands-off” approach.
Back in September when Kentucky coach John Calipari extended an offer to Whitney Young (Chicago) center Jahlil Okafor, Calipari told Okafor not to expect him to call constantly.
“Coach Cal said he didn’t see the point of all that calling and texting,” said Okafor, who is ranked No. 2 in the class of 2014. “I loved that approach because he made a really good point when he said, ‘I’m 53 years old, what would we have to talk about?’ Some schools just get out of hand with crazy texts.”
After one coach began sending Okafor text messages simply repeating the name of his college, Okafor’s dad Chucky stepped in and told all of the coaches to keep texts and calls on topic.
“It was just weird,” Okafor said. “I guess some guys like the attention, but, honestly, most of us don’t need it.”
Some schools think that the head coach has to take the lead on elite prospects and stay in constant contact to have a legitimate chance at landing them.
Not true according to Wesleyan Christian (High Point, N.C.) wing Theo Pinson, a consensus top 10 player in the class of 2014.
“I don’t need to hear from the head coach too often,” Pinson said. “As long as I hear from him from time to time that’s fine with me. It can’t be never. That would be a turnoff. But I know he’s busy; just need to talk to him every now and then.”
Still, in the high-stakes game of recruiting where commitments from elite prospects can affect livelihoods, college coaches feel the pressure to pull out all the stops.
The question is: When does it get to be too much?
For Okafor, that answer is simple.
“It’s common sense; you know when you’re calling and texting too much,” he said. “Coaches just have to remember, we already know you want us. Don’t be so thirsty.”
The women’s lacrosse coaches at Ocean State University are finalizing their recruiting trips for the month of November. There is a high profile tournament being held in conjunction with the coaches’ convention on November 16-18. Here is the recruiting calendar breakdown:
16th- contact period (no evaluations permitted)
17th- evaluation period
18th- evaluation period
The coaches would like to evaluate all three days of the tournament. Is this permissible?
No. NCAA Women’s Lacrosse Recruiting Calendar states that evaluations of prospects participating in lacrosse activities are limited to the three weekends (Saturday and Sunday) prior to Thanksgiving.
This is an actual fact pattern and the NCAA has approved a blanket SLR waiver to allow coaches to evaluate on Friday the 16th.–NCAA Division I Legislative Council Subcommittee for Legislative Relief Approves Blanket Waiver for NCAA Bylaw 13.17.6 (women’s lacrosse). November 2, 2012. The NCAA Division I Legislative Council Subcommittee for Legislative Relief approved a blanket waiver to permit Division I women’s lacrosse coaches to attend the November 16, 2012, Intercollegiate Women’s Lacrosse Coaches Association (IWLCA) President’s Cup tournament. The Division I recruiting period legislation specifies that evaluations of prospective student-athletes in women’s lacrosse activities are limited to the three weekends (Saturday and Sunday) prior to Thanksgiving. In issuing this waiver, the subcommittee noted the IWLCA supports the waiver and the President’s Cup tournament start date was changed to accommodate the unexpected high number of teams registered to participate. The subcommittee also noted the IWLCA annual meeting and President’s Cup tournament are held in conjunction to maximize efficiency for both women’s lacrosse coaches and prospective student-athletes. In addition, the subcommittee noted Division II and Division III women’s lacrosse coaches are permitted to evaluate at the tournament Friday, November 16. Finally, the subcommittee noted this as a one-time request and future similar requests may be denied. See Case No. 290866 in AMA Online via the search tab.
PLEASE NOTE: The women’s lacrosse recruiting calendar has been updated to reflect these contact periods. As a reminder, coaches are permitted to make unlimited phone calls during a contact period.
As noted in the waiver, Division II institutions were already permitted to evaluate on Friday the 16th.
The Ocean State University women’s basketball team will be hosting a WNIT game at their on-campus facility in a few weeks. During that particular weekend, the team will be hosting 3 prospective student-athletes on official visits. Is it permissible to provide these prospects with complimentary admissions to the WNIT game?
Yes. NCAA Staff Interpretation- 7/2/03- Complimentary Admissions to Preseason Events (I)- states that a member institution may provide complimentary admissions to a prospect to attend preseason (as distinguished from postseason) home athletics events. [References: NCAA Proposal Nos. 2003-1 and 2003-2, Bylaws 220.127.116.11 (entertainment/tickets on official visit – general restrictions), 18.104.22.168.2 (NCAA championships or other postseason events), 22.214.171.124 (entertainment/tickets on unofficial visit – general restrictions), 126.96.36.199 (home games outside regular facility) and 188.8.131.52 (NCAA championships and other postseason events) and 8/22/90, official interpretation, item 14, which has been archived.].
This piece of legislation is applicable to Division I.
M.T. Backfield is a prospective student-athlete interested in playing football at Ocean State University (OSU) next year. M.T. is visiting OSU’s campus today for an official visit. Since it is Halloween, the OSU coaches decorated M.T.’s hotel room by spelling out his name in candy on the bed.
Is this permissible?
No. NCAA Bylaw 184.108.40.206 states that an institution may not arrange miscellaneous, personalized recruiting aids (e.g., personalized jerseys, personalized audio/video scoreboard presentations) and may not permit a prospective student-athlete to engage in any game-day simulations (e.g., running onto the field with the team during pregame introductions) during an official visit. Personalized recruiting aids include any decorative items and special additions to any location the prospective student-athlete will visit (e.g., hotel room, locker room, coach’s office, conference room, arena) regardless of whether the items include the prospective student-athlete’s name or picture.
This fact pattern is an actual secondary violation posted on LSDBi. The violation was discovered after another institution saw that the prospect had posted a photo of the candy on his Facebook page. The institution was penalized recruiting opportunities during the current academic year. In addition, the student-athlete was deemed ineligible for intercollegiate competition at the institution until his eligibility was restored by the NCAA student-athlete reinstatement staff. This is a Division I case.
Ocean State University is preparing for the upcoming National Letter of Intent (NLI) early signing period. Which of the following is true with regard to the requirements that must be met before the coaches can send a prospect an NLI and written offer of athletic aid?
A. Prospect must be placed on Ocean State University’s institutional request list (IRL) with the NCAA Eligibility Center
B. Prospect must complete the NCAA Eligibility Center amateurism certification questionnaire
C. Prospect must register with the NCAA Eligibility Center
D. All of the above
The answer is D. NCAA Bylaw 13.9.1 states that the following requirements must be met before an institution may provide a written offer of athletically related financial aid (per Bylaw 220.127.116.11) to a prospective student-athlete: [D] (Adopted: 4/26/07 effective 8/1/07, Revised: 4/30/09 effective 8/1/10)
(a) A high school or preparatory school prospective student-athlete must register with the NCAA Eligibility Center;
(b) A high school or preparatory school prospective student-athlete must be placed on the institution’s institutional request list (IRL) with the NCAA Eligibility Center; and
(c) A high school, preparatory school or transfer (if applicable) prospective student-athlete must complete the amateurism certification questionnaire administered by the NCAA Eligibility Center.
The men’s basketball coaching staff at Ocean State University will be attending a celebratory function on the night of the initial National Letter of Intent (NLI) signing day for the early period. Boosters, fans and members of the media will also be in attendance. Is the coaching staff allowed to comment on the prospective student-athletes that have signed NLIs with Ocean State University?
Yes. NCAA Bylaw 18.104.22.168 states that coaching staff members may attend functions designed to celebrate the institution’s signees in the applicable sport and may discuss prospective student-athletes who have signed commitments to attend the institution, including discussions with working media, provided the institution previously has released communications of the prospective student-athletes’ commitments to attend the institution to media outlets. (Adopted: 1/14/08)