We've written at length about the NCAA's silly recruiting communications rules, especially the rules that disallow text messages and closely restrict phone calls, but allow coaches to send unlimited email, Facebook and Twitter messages. As anyone with a smartphone and an unlimited text-messaging plan knows, the distinction between a direct message on Twitter and a text message is practically nil. Most people have smartphones; lots of people have unlimited texting plans. Each method of communication can be acted on or ignored at will. Why levy unnecessary rules? Why not let the tech-savvy teens of 2011 handle recruiting requests with the same intuitive understanding they practice in every other facet of their digital lives?
In August, the NCAA's Division I Leadership Council made several recruiting-oriented recommendations, one of which was "deregulating the type of communication between coaches and prospects (including text messaging and other forms of electronic communication)." Modernity! It feels good, doesn't it?
Lost in the discussion about regulations and feasibility and what's best for the prospects is something Lorenzo Romar touched on in an interview with the Seattle Times's Percy Allen Tuesday. Just because a coach can send more messages doesn't mean he should. Too much contact can be counterproductive:
"The thing is kids just look at your text or look at the number and they don't have to respond. It's not like way back in the day when if you answered the phone you're stuck. (Laughter) Read the number. I you don't want to answer, you don't answer. It makes you wonder as a coach am I working hard enough? Am I calling enough? I've gotten enough feedback from the kids that it just becomes counterproductive after a certain point. You're calling too much and texting too much."
Yes, the same rules that apply to helicopter parents and jilted ex-girlfriends apply to college coaches: If someone's ignoring you, it probably means they don't want to talk. You may want to. But they don't. There's no way to force the issue. And if you repeatedly text or call or email or message, they're only going to be further turned off. Desperation is never attractive.
In other words, prospects can handle this stuff. The NCAA's current communications designations are an amalgam of ideas from a time before caller ID, email, text messages, social networks, ubiquitous cell phone (and now smartphone) use. Those technologies have changed the way many of us communicate. We don't even have to think about it anymore: Ignore that. Save that for later. Respond to that now.
Thanks to our shiny gadgets, we're simultaneously more informed and more distracted than any time in human civilization. Socially, we're simultaneously more open and more isolated than ever before. The important part is, we can choose between these effects at any time. Why would college basketball prospects be any different?