Social Media and Recruits
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The rules regarding who can recruit athletes to attend and play their sport at a university are fairly clear.
Only institutional staff members are permitted to recruit prospective student-athletes. Generally, NCAA rules prohibit anyone else from contacting (calling, writing or in-person contact) prospects or the prospect’s relatives or guardian for recruiting purposes.
Boosters may not encourage a prospect’s participation in university athletics or provide benefits to prospects that were not previously provided.
If a violation occurs, it may jeopardize a student-athlete’s eligibility for intercollegiate competition, jeopardize a school’s membership status with the NCAA or cause a booster to lose access to all booster benefits.
The NCAA defines a booster as
Joins a “booster club” that promotes a given team or athletic program
Makes a financial contribution to a program’s athletic department — no matter the amount
Buys season tickets in any sport
Provides any benefit (a summer job for a player, for example) to a student-athlete
But with so many fans and recruits on social media it’s become nearly impossible for schools and the NCAA to keep up
The University of Oklahoma compliance office recently had to hire a full-time staffer to help monitor the social media of prospective student-athletes. Anytime a suspicious interaction occurs on Twitter or Facebook, that staffer follows up to make sure the person initiating the contact isn’t affiliated with the university. Oklahoma is also researching software options that will help monitor these interactions.
“The challenge for our office is ensuring that no individual is involved in the recruiting process other than our coaches, including on social media,” said Jason Leonard, executive director of compliance at Oklahoma. “But this can be very burdensome considering the number of people on social-networking sites who are also fans of the university.
“It’s becoming an ever-increasing burden.”
One that isn’t going away anytime soon.
But what even happens if one of these rules is violated?
As seen in the Thurman Thomas incident, unintentional illegal contact via social media is so wide spread that even members of the NFL Hall of Fame have been involved. Thomas’ message to Treadwell was simple: “@SuccessfulQuon OSU OSU OSU #OklahomaState.”
The message was short, using only 42 of the allotted 140 characters, but it was enough to force the OSU compliance staff to self-report another violation and file more paperwork.
NCAA spokeswoman Kayci Woodley told The Oklahoman that self-reporting is just to “show the school is doing their due diligence to abide by the NCAA rules.”
DeShazo doesn’t see the point.
“They’re not going to be penalized for it,” he said. “All they have to do is self-report all these violations that end up with no real consequences.”
So what does it all mean? I have read so many articles and talked with many educated people on the topic and there is no clear answer. No school has ever faced any real punishment for fans or boosters sending out tweets to recruits. But that doesn’t make it right. The most important thing in all of this is a young man or woman deciding what is best for their future education. It’s not about who fans/boosters want to play on their favorite team.
There is certainly a gray area between no contact and trying to recruit a player and I will try to touch on that now. None of this is official, it is just my understanding of the rules.
I believe you can follow a recruit and favorite or retweet their tweets.
I believe you can mention a recruit
When mentioning or retweeting you should not try to influence a recruit. It’s best to not mention any school at all. To mention a recruit and talk positive about your school or negative about another school is a clear violation.
In the end, I think all of BisoNation can agree, the coaches are the ones who we trust to recruit the next Bison greats.
If you have any questions feel free to email me John.Neis@bisonation.info