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Board to reconsider texting, scouting rules

By Michelle Brutlag Hosick

The Division I Board of Directors will reconsider at its May 2 meeting legislation that eliminated the rule banning certain modes of communication (text messaging) and eliminating numerical limits on phone calls. The review will occur because the required number of schools – 75 – has requested an override of the rule.

The Board also will reconsider a new rule prohibiting coaches from scouting future opponents in person. The rule continues to allow coaches to scout upcoming opponents if they are participating in the same tournament or doubleheader event at the same site.

The request to reconsider the recruiting communication rule was not unexpected, as the Board met earlier this week and suspended two other rules related to recruiting – one deregulating who can perform recruiting tasks and the other lifting restrictions on what recruiting materials can be sent to prospects. At that time, Board members agreed to let the membership decide the future of the recruiting communication rule adopted in January.

Schools requesting an override of the legislation cited work-life balance for coaches and the possibility that prospects will be overwhelmed with recruiting communication as reasons for the override. Some specifically cited concerns in football.

“During the football season, coaches want to concentrate on coaching and interacting with current student-athletes. The proposal will force them to significantly increase the amount of time they spend calling and texting recruits during the season,” one school wrote. “This rule will create additional distractions for high school student-athletes. Their phones will be inundated with calls and texts at all hours of the day from college coaches and staff.”

The Rules Working Group proposed the rule change with the belief that over-communicating with recruits would not prove to be an advantageous strategy. The group also believed the measure acknowledged both the increased use of text-messaging by prospects over the last several years and the growing difficulty of distinguishing between text messages, email and messages sent through social media. The rule also could relieve a significant monitoring burden from the shoulders of compliance administrators.

The prohibition on live scouting, originally proposed because of the vast improvements in video technology and the belief that live scouting could have a direct impact on fair competition, generated some concern because coaches in some sports believe they won’t have the same access to quality video. Other schools said they believe the ban is contrary to the deregulation effort.

“It is inconsistent with the NCAA deregulation theme and is biased against certain sports, particularly large field sports such as soccer, lacrosse and field hockey,” one school wrote. “Finally, it would call for added administrative oversight.”

The Board of Directors has several options. It can maintain its action on the proposals, which will send them to an online override vote of the entire Division I membership. It can agree with those requesting the override, which would rescind the proposals. The presidents could also amend the proposals in some way, such as suspend them and refer them for further study which would subject the action to another 60-day override period.

The Board meets May 2 in Indianapolis.