Monday, April 16, 2007

Text twist

Northwestern begins its final practice week Tuesday, and while the focus clearly will be on the team, NU's technology-savvy recruiters still might send out some text messages to prospective Wildcats.

That's just the way it is these days.

In 2005, The Daily ran a story (link below) about technology and recruiting, as did many other papers. It's quite a fascinating subject -- nearly unlimited contact with recruits (except during designated "dead periods") -- but clearly problematic. Many NU players weren't of the five-star variety, but they received some texts during their recruitment. As for those blue-chippers, some of them receive texts before they woke up and after they went to bed. A lot.

As coach Pat Fitzgerald, then NU's linebackers coach and recruiting coordinator said at the time, "I think it's a positive as long as the people that don't have restrictions on them don't take advantage of the kids."

Well, clearly some do. Now the NCAA might do something about it.

According to the Associated Press, the NCAA management council today and Tuesday will address an Ivy League proposal that bans all text messages -- which was proposed mainly because it invades the recruits' privacy, overwhelms them and, because text messages are far from free, often saddles them with quite a cost.

Clearly, with the NCAA traditionally being slow-moving, it might prove difficult to successfully eliminate these invasions, especially with technology developing as quickly as it does today.

"I think we all struggle with it in different ways," Kate Hickey, chair of the management council and associate athletic director at Rutgers, told the AP. "You struggle with it when you buy a computer or a cell phone, because the next day you know something better is going to come along."

But, in this writer's opinion, banning text messages would be a start.

When I spoke in 2005 with Miechelle Willis, a member of the NCAA Division I Management Council, she said, "(E-mails and text messages) are viewed as non-invasive, and students can choose to read them or not to read them."

And while this is true, that's no different from phone calls, which are restricted by the NCAA. In these days of caller ID, people can choose to answer the phone, or let it ring.

Also, it's free to receive an e-mail, or even a Myspace or Facebook message -- two other potentially problematic ways for coaches to contact recruits. But not so much to receive a text.

So, while some might fight for a cure-all solution, if the NCAA moves on anything technology-based, it would be wise for text messages to be placed in the same realm as phone calls.

After all, back in the old high school days of five years ago, texts were used for weekend plans and homework answers (double-checking them, not giving them out, of course). Shouldn't it stay that way?


  • NU completed another 60-play scrimmage Saturday. Junior quarterback C.J. Bacher, who returned to practice Tuesday after missing the first two weeks while recovering from offseason toe surgery, did not participate. Junior running back Tyrell Sutton, who sat out NU's first scrimmage with minor injuries, played in the first series and recorded a 15-yard run, an 11-yard reception and a 1-yard touchdown catch.

  • Wildcats Watch mistakenly reported that the Big Ten Network might carry NU's Oct. 19 game against Eastern Michigan at Ford Field in Detroit. Since it is considered a home game for the Eagles, the Big Ten does not have rights to the game, according to an NU spokesman. Comcast typically carries Eastern Michigan games.

--Patrick Dorsey

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