It's been a long time coming, but this week, the nature of college basketball recruiting will take a massive leap into the modern era. On June 15 -- this coming Friday -- the NCAA's new cell phone contact rules will go into place. For the first time in five years, when the NCAA outlawed the use of text messages in recruiting, coaches will now be able to send unlimited text messages and make unlimited phone calls to recruits that have completed their sophomore year in high school.
This rule change is a long time coming, and is the product of evolving technologies and evolving attitudes. With the widespread adoption of smartphone usage -- devices that make negligible the differences between texts, Twitter direct messages, email and Facebook pings -- gone are the days when high-volume texting could cause recruits' families outsized cell phone bills. So, what effect will the new rule have on the recruiting landscape?
There is concern among some -- as documented Sunday by Toledo Blade writer Ryan Autullo -- the lack of limits will cause a free-for-all rush of contact between coaches and players. That may well be true, especially in the coming days, as coaches across the country throw off the chains that once restricted their overactive thumbs in the hopes of luring prospects to their school of choice.
But whatever negatives may arise from that deluge seem strongly outweighed by the potential positives. For one, the rules could foster a closer bond between players and coaches early in the recruiting process. Less reliance on go-betweens may (repeat: may) help reduce the steadily rising number of annual transfers in college basketball. Meanwhile, coaches will spend less time fretting, and the NCAA will spend less time policing, the kind of weak secondary infractions that frequently arose from the confusion and obscurity of the old telecommunications rules.
More than anything, the rule is likely to work well for one simple reason: If there is anyone that can handle a deluge of texts, calls, and messages, it's your average 16-year-old kid with a smartphone. Unlimited contact may prove annoying to recruits at the outset, but the solution will often be as simple as turning off the phone. Recruits still hold the all the recruiting power, only now, more of that power -- to answer, to ignore, to block, to shut down entirely -- is right in the palms of their hands. For the price of a bit of annoyance, this seems like a fair trade, no?