The University of Iowa inadvertently set off a kerfuffle Monday afternoon after this ordinarily innocuous tweet:
Hawkeye Fans and Boosters, please do not Tweet at Hawkeye Recruits! Leave the recruiting to Iowa coaches!#220.127.116.11— Hawkeye Compliance (@UIowaCompliance) August 10, 2015
It's a simple enough message, right? According to Lyla Clerry, the University of Iowa Associate AD for Compliance, it was a regular tweet for the @UIowaCompliance account. "It wasn't anything that we saw that triggered it; we've got a pool of topics that we try to communicate through that means, and that was one of them," Clerry told BHGP in a phone interview. "The response was surprising."
And yet, some people refuse to let it sink in. We here at BHGP call it creepy. Our friends at 11W have a slightly different term that we do not disagree with. It happens at every school, and every single compliance department wishes it wouldn't. Here's this from InsideHigherEd.com as to why:
It is against National Collegiate Athletic Association rules for athletic boosters to communicate with recruits over social media. Colleges also discourage fans from using social media to persuade prospective players to join a program, as the interaction can cause confusion or be seen as having received approval from an institution. In 2010, Indiana University fans who hoped to recruit high school basketball star Cody Zeller created a Facebook page that listed two team members as administrators. The university was forced to deny involvement in the campaign, saying the players were added as administrators without their permission. In recent years, several colleges -- including Florida Gulf Coast University, Tulane University and the University of Oklahoma -- have made similar pleas as Iowa's.
"The only individuals that are allowed to recruit for an institution are accountable coaches," Clerry told BHGP. "It's always been the case that donors—"boosters," if you will—could not contact recruits. So now with social media that just gets extended to that platform as well. So there's no difference from a booster not being able to pick up the phone and call a recruit and tell him to come to Iowa, and they now also can't go on to Twitter or whatever social media platform that's being used at the time to encourage them to come to the institution. So it wasn't a new rule, it was just an old rule that was being extended to social media platforms."
Okay. Let's say you're not a booster. Let's say you're just a fan. Is it an NCAA violation to contact a recruit at that point? Technically, no. It'd be impossible to enforce fairly to anyone involved. Is contacting recruits yourself productive? Probably not! Fans—especially ones without the connections inside the department that higher-level boosters normally get—don't know how coaches are recruiting players, what tailored, specific messages they're trying to communicate best. The coaches are professionals. They spend unholy hours honing their pitches and communicating to entire families the best aspects of the program and university. By comparison, your ability to correctly identify the colors your favorite team wears and tell children they'd look good in those colors is not a meaningful or helpful part of the recruiting process.
And god help you if you're pathetic enough to tweet negative things at a recruit that goes somewhere other than Iowa. Delete your account and reevaluate your entire life if you ever get that far.
So fans, please don't contact recruits. It's not a debate. Nobody wants you to do it. Let the recruits be kids and have their space, let the coaches do their job, and let compliance departments breathe easily. This shouldn't be difficult.