On August 9th the NCAA will reconsider it's ban on the use of text messaging as a recruiting communication tool. The issue will be re-examined due to an 'override' in which more than 30 NCAA members requested a review of the issue. I've spent the last 20 years working in network and communication technology so this is subject is near and dear to me. When it comes to ubiquitous communication technology, there is always a fine line between being in constant contact and being interrupted by some beeping or buzzing device.
Most people probably take the view on text messaging similar to that recently displayed by Terry Bowden.
I didn't own a cell phone 25 years ago, but we wouldn't think of banning their use. I had never been on the Internet 15 years ago, but we couldn't live without it today in the recruiting process. Banning text messaging was a knee-jerk reaction to a "not so new" technology, and we need to go back and treat it like we have everything else and merely add some reasonable limitations to its use. ...
Unfortunately this view is simplistic and doesn't take into account several factors as to why text messaging was banned in the first place. As reported by Josh Centor from the NCAA, "student athletes reported that the recruiting practice adversely affected their lives". Evidence of such can be found in an interview with a recruit named Jeff Hawkins who complained that it "gets annoying" and about generic messages being sent out at 1:00 or 2:00 am.
Add to these complaints a study from RIM, the manufacturer of the ubiquitous corporate Blackberry mobile communicator, that states that the Blackberry is great for productivity, but bad for 'life balance' and you get the idea that coaches are more worried about their own jobs without giving a damn as to how it affects their recruits. Recruits are already bombarded by interviews and emails from fan recruiting sites like Rivals.com and Scout.com (for which there are no NCAA limits), do we need to add generic text messaging on top of that?
Maryland coach Ralph Friegden complains there's no way to govern if another coaching is texting when they shouldn't be, but there's also no way to tell if a coach is texting outside of any proposed limits either. A complete ban would be easier to govern than any proposed compromise. Recruits can more easily report any coach who feels an obsessive need for constant communication.
Employers who use such technologies can reward their employees by giving them a good review, a raise, an advancement, providing more training by which they may further their careers, - a myriad of rewards can be provided. Between the coach and the recruit the only award available is a scholarship and if the recruit is wanted that badly, he'll get one anyway.
The ban isn't about the NCAA being ignorant of the technology. Texting is not as simplistic as being 'one more form of communication'. The ban should stay in place out of respect for the prospective student-athletes who have enough happening in their young lives without one more needless distraction.