Dan Tudor

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New NCAA Rules Mean New Potential Pitfalls for College RecruitersMonday, January 23rd, 2012

The dust has settled, and the new NCAA rules for 2012 are in place.

And with new rules come new opportunities:  In Division II, coaches now have more time to contact recruits and a variety of new ways to reach them – text messaging, social networks and even message boards.  In Division III, text messaging is now allowed (however, contact via social media websites like Facebook and Twitter is still prohibited).

But with new opportunities come new challenges for savvy recruiters.  In reading over the new rules, there are a few pitfalls I can see an unprepared college coach stumbling into as they begin to recruit new prospects using these new rules.  (And by the way, even though these new rules mainly affect Division II and Division III college coaches, Division I and NAIA coaches can learn from the potential mistakes we’ve outlined and apply them to their own recruiting strategies):

Division II coaches can now visit a prospect in person on an unlimited basis beginning June 15th prior to the prospect’s Junior year in high school. Here’s the problem:  Our research is showing that coaches who stage multiple visits without sharing new information or giving the prospect a sense that the recruiting process is moving forward risk alienating the prospect.  Current college athletes we interview as a part of our On-Campus Workshops tell us that they grow impatiently very quickly when coaches contact them, but don’t have anything new to say or don’t outline where the process stands.  I see this as a potential risk for coaches who begin regular visits to view a recruit:  The recruit sees a coach, talks to a coach, and nothing new is verbalized by the coach.  If you plan on increasing the frequency of your visits, make sure you are consistently outlining new information and new steps in the process to your prospect and their parents.

Division II coaches now have more time to personally recruit athletes, beginning June 15th prior to an athlete’s Junior year. The same potential pitfall exists here as it did in the previous item.  More face to face time, but not enough new information to keep the prospect engaged and feeling like the process is moving forward.  Additionally, if you are starting the recruiting process before your prospect begins their Junior year as the new rules allows, focus your questions on what they want out of the process and what they want to talk about…not what they want in a college or a coach.  That’s too big of a concept to grasp for most of them, so don’t introduce a conversation about the topic (yet).

Division II coaches can use text messaging and message boards, as well as private messaging through Facebook. This holds one of the biggest potential pitfalls for coaches.  We see college coaches wasting the opportunity to form a deeper relationship with their recruits by simply posting athletic department sports information releases and other bland communication via Facebook.  Don’t do that, Coach.  Facebook – and text messaging – is an extremely personal way of communicating for today’s teenagers.  If you supply them with a steady stream of adult news about your program, don’t be surprised when they tune you out.  Keep it real, honest and personal.  Use YouTube videos made by your team versus professionally edited videos from your sports information office, and write in a personal blog style instead of using “news reporting” language in your messaging.

Division II and Division III coaches have an expanded use of text messaging. What not to do?  Trying to “sell” your school and your program through text messaging.  There is no faster way to be rejected by your prospect than sending anything resembling a sales message via text message to a recruit.  We know this because of the testing and research we’ve done with our list of college coach clients we help as we formulate their recruiting strategy and actual messaging communication, and I can tell you as bluntly as possible that a coach who uses text messaging to overtly sell their program will ruin their chances of connecting with that athlete in a trusted way as the process moves forward.  Save text messaging for discussing the recruiting process, building a friendly relationship, and talking about specific points in the recruiting process as follow-up to other conversations via phone, mail and email.  Remember, texting is very personal and very informal.  Keep it that way and use it to build a relationship with the athlete…not to sell.

The new rules reflect the way we see communication with recruits heading, and I think they will provide coaches with some important new avenues for making strong connections with recruits.  However, there are also some real dangers in not approaching these new liberties correctly.  Make sure you’re one of the coaches that uses the new rules correctly right from the beginning.

We strongly recommend you make plans on attending this Summer’s National Collegiate Recruiting Conference.  It’s designed specifically for motivated college recruiters who want to be the best that they can be in the battle for their top prospects.  Click here for all the information and to reserve your seat at this year’s event!

Revised Rules Approved by NCAAMonday, January 23rd, 2012

The following article is courtesy of Allie Grasgreen, who writes for the excellent website InsideHigherEd.com.  It is an excellent overview of the changes approved by the NCAA in January 2012:


After weeks of buildup, the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s  Division I Board of Directors finally revisited its rule that — before it was  suspended because so many institutions opposed it — gave colleges permission to  award athletes on full scholarships up to $2,000 more in aid. The board of  Division I presidents didn’t give up on the legislation, but consented to modify  it, putting an altered version of the rule on the agenda for April’s board  meeting.

Also here on Saturday, the last day of the NCAA’s annual convention, the  board stood firm on the other especially controversial proposal that emerged  from an August retreat of university leaders called by the  association’s president, Mark Emmert, in response to criticisms of declining  integrity, academic standards and financial sustainability.

That proposal, approved by the board at its October meeting, permitted colleges to award  multiyear scholarships. The number of colleges opposing the multiyear rule (more  than 75) wasn’t high enough to trigger an automatic suspension (as was the case  with the $2,000 aid rule, which more than 125 institutions spoke out against).  But because the board opted Saturday not to modify the rule to appease the  colleges, it will go to a February vote of all 355 Division I members, where it  will be killed if at least five-eighths of colleges line up against it.

Also at Saturday’s meeting, the board voted down two proposals brought  forward by its Resource Allocation Working Group; one would have cut costs by  eliminating off-season travel to foreign competitions, and another aimed to  shrink the number of scholarships from 85 to 80 in top football programs and  from 15 to 13 in women’s basketball. The board did approve a decade-long  moratorium on increasing the number of games and length of seasons in all  sports.

In a news conference following Saturday’s board meeting, Emmert said it  “would be inaccurate to describe this as a setback” for the $2,000 scholarship  bump, as it’s really “an attempt to get it right.” If the board approves the  modified proposal in April, the rule will face another 60-day comment period  during which colleges could again shoot it down if they’re not satisfied.  (Athletes who signed while the rule was enacted will still be eligible for the  extra aid, the NCAA said.)

The “miscellaneous expenses” rule was intended to help cover the gap between  what an athletic scholarship provides and the full cost of attending college,  which averages a few thousand dollars but can reach $11,000, depending on the institution. But  colleges worried that the rule could violate gender equity laws under Title IX  of the Education Amendments of 1972, and that it could allow the wealthiest  programs — if they chose to meet the full cost of attendance, and others did  not — to stockpile athletes.

“We heard the voices, the concerns expressed,” Sidney McPhee, president of  Middle Tennessee State University, said in a Friday session here in which  presidents and NCAA administrators updated convention attendees on initiatives  from the August retreat.

However, McPhee, who chairs the Student-Athlete Well-Being working group that  developed the legislation and who read every college’s formal comments against  it, warned that the working group that submitted the proposal couldn’t please  everyone: “There were people who were just fundamentally opposed to providing  any additional aid,” mainly because of budget issues, he said. “We certainly  respect that view, but we do feel that it’s time that we take a serious look at  this adjustment.”

But even some who would have benefited from the rule were wary of it. The  cost-of-attendance rule could be helpful in offsetting educational expenses, but  questions remain about whether it would allocate the “proper funds” to the  athletes who need and deserve them, said Eugene Daniels, a Colorado State  University football player who represents the Mountain West Conference on the  Division I Student-Athlete Advisory Committee. Daniels added that while the  multiyear scholarship would be advantageous for athletes in terms of the  security it would provide, it’s possible that some athletes, having been awarded  long-term aid, could become “complacent.”

Some athletics directors at that session, including Sandy Barbour of the  University of California at Berkeley, and Mike Alden of the University of  Missouri at Columbia, said they support the multiyear scholarship rule but,  because of financial and logistical concerns, would like more time before the  NCAA enacts the rule. Alden, who also chairs the division’s Leadership Council,  suggested a start date of July or August 2013. Under the current legislation,  athletes in the upcoming February and April signing periods would be eligible  for multiyear grants.

When discussion turned to the prospect of banning foreign exhibition tours,  some administrators spoke in favor of a rule that would have encouraged athletes  to study abroad in an academic setting, rather than one focused on competition.  But others, including an athlete who served on the working group that proposed  the rule, said that just wasn’t practical; many athletes don’t even have the  time to hold a job, much less to travel overseas.

Measures to reduce costs drew significant ire from some administrators,  including Harvey Perlman, chancellor of the University of Nebraska at Lincoln.  “I do believe honestly that the task is not difficult — it is impossible. And  that what you see with these proposals is an effort to try and restrain spending  at the expense of student-athletes with no understanding of what the outcome  will be,” Perlman said. Regarding the proposal that would have eliminated some  scholarships to save money, he said, “I don’t know of an athletic department  that won’t spend every penny it has.”

“I just think this is bad publicity and it’s bad policy,” Perlman continued.  “This is a part of the old culture of the NCAA, of trying to regulate the  details of trying to get competitive equity when you can’t do it.” (Restrict the  number of scholarships a high-profile program can award, Perlman said, and  they’ll just spend the money on “temples” or “iPods in showers.”)

The board also tabled a recommendation to cut costs by limiting the number of  non-coaching employees such as videographers, administrative personnel and  strength and conditioning trainers, asking the Resource Allocation group to  bring back a new version in April. This version would have permitted only 12  such staff in football and six in men’s basketball; some officials seemed  confused or concerned Friday when they heard about the proposal’s details. At  Saturday’s press conference, Emmert said that the presidents have a strong  desire to address the issue, but that “the devil’s in the details.”

On Friday, Michael F. Adams, president of the University of Georgia and chair  of the Resource Allocation Working Group, acknowledged tensions over the  proposals he helped bring forward. “Of all the things I’ve done in the NCAA in  the last 30 years, this has been the least popular,” he said, noting surveys  that show men’s and women’s basketball on average use only 11 or 12  scholarships. “I do agree that these are difficult issues, but it was not based  on something pulled out of the air.”

And lastly, on Saturday, the board approved a one-year moratorium on new  legislation, excluding emergency legislation and anything from the presidential  reform agenda. The day before, Emmert’s contract was extended an additional two  years, pushing its end date to October 2017.

Division II

With little debate, Division II institutions approved legislation last week  that will ease recruiting restrictions on multiple fronts. To make better use of  new technology and to put athletes on a more level playing field with  non-athletic recruits, colleges supported a number of changes.

First, programs will be allowed to visit athletic prospects on an unlimited  basis beginning June 15 before the student’s junior year in high school. That  rule lifted a previous thrice-per-year limit to in-person, off-campus contact,  and gave coaches an extra year in which to do it.

Athletics programs will also have more time to contact recruits via e-mail  and fax, with the passage of legislation that moved the permissible start date  for such correspondence from Sept. 1 before an athlete’s junior year to June 15  of the same year. It also lifts the one-call-per-week limit on programs, and  allows unlimited phone calls beginning June 15 before the junior year, a year  earlier than the previous start date. Finally, the rule upholds the use of  instant messages, text messages and message boards, but now permits all three  beginning June 15 before the recruit’s junior year, rather than the calendar day  after the athlete makes a written commitment or financial deposit.

The proposals made sense not just to the coaches who wanted to reach students  more effectively, but also to presidents and athletics officials and to athletes  who are in college now, said Rick Cole Jr., athletics director at Dowling  College, in New York, and chair of the Division II Management Council. It’s  about “what makes sense for today and tomorrow,” Cole said in an interview the  day before the voting at Saturday’s business session. “If you’re not  communicating effectively, I think you limit your success potential.”

And that includes social media — as long as the correspondence is private.  So, for example, a coach could send a recruit a message on Facebook, but  couldn’t write on said recruit’s “wall.”

Division II also adopted legislation that: requires new conferences to  contain at least 10 active member institutions, effective Aug. 1, 2013; requires  conferences to have at least eight members effective Aug. 1, 2017, then at least  10 institutions effective Aug. 1, 2022; allows the Management Council to limit  the number of applicant conferences that could be invited to active membership;  and increases from two years to five the waiting period for a new conference to  be eligible for automatic qualification.

Division III

Coaches in Division III can now use text messaging to communicate with  recruits, with 418 of 467 institutions voting in favor of a rule designed to  ease communication with students who increasingly prefer texting to e-mail or  phone calls. Colleges will now be allowed to send unlimited texts, under the  same rules that regulate other forms of electronic recruitment media. (Unlike  Division II, Division III did not include social media, out of privacy  concerns.)

Legislation that would have limited strength and conditioning workouts during  the off-season and on in-season off-days was withdrawn over concerns about  ability to monitor off-season activities. The New England Collegiate Conference  and the New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference, which sponsored the  proposal, had said earlier last week that they wanted to revise the legislation  to focus more on the in-season component.

Yet another withdrawal, this one of legislation that was opposed by most  governance groups because it would have applied only to a few athletes, was  probably disappointing to the sponsors of a proposal that they said would allow  injured students to better focus on their health. The rule would have charged an  athlete with a full season of eligibility for practicing with the team after  sustaining a season-ending injury.


NCAA’s Jay Jones Clarifies Division III Twitter RulesSunday, May 17th, 2009

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College Coaches and the NCAA Trying to Adapt to Recruits and TechnologyMonday, April 20th, 2009

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How the NCAA Changed the Way They Got Their Message Out (and what YOU can learn from it)Monday, August 4th, 2008

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NCAA Struggles to Police High-Tech RecruitingMonday, January 29th, 2007

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NCAA Thinking About Increasing Penalties for Academic FailureMonday, August 7th, 2006

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Hurricane Katrina Blows Away NCAA RulesMonday, September 5th, 2005

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NCAA Ruling Raises More Questions Than It AnswersSunday, August 7th, 2005

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