Recruiting has changed quite a bit in the last few years. The proliferation of “scouting services”, blogs to interview recruits and high school games on television has made the whole process much more known to fans of every school. While some things remain the same (the desire to figure out where Jai Lucas is leaning), the biggest change is the way fans are participating in the recruiting process. Because of Facebook and now Twitter, fans are not only hoping players go to their school, they are actively participating in conversations with the players about their process. Go to a top player’s FB or Twitter page and just take a look….they literally get 100s of messages a day from fans of all schools, telling them why their school is best and why the other school sucks. And it is only getting worse. As players like CJ Leslie and Tony Wroten Jr, Retweet fans’ comments, they only increase so they can tell their friends “hey CJ Leslie thought what I wrote was cool.”
Now lets be clear. Technically all of these communications are NCAA violations. Fans are not supposed to have any contact with recruits, especially to tell them to come to their school. If you remember back to the old days of the Patrick Patterson recruitment, UK reported Facebook communications from fans trying to get Pat to Lexington and the Herald Leader (shockingly) made a big deal about it. But now those days seem almost primitive. Back then, it was a picture of a superimposed Ashley Judd that was the problem…now its scores of messages a day directly telling players to come to their school.
The reality is that there is absolutely nothing the NCAA can do to stop it. Fans of every school are making the comments and the NCAA has no authority to (a) tell kids to take down their pages or (b) tell fans to stop communicating. They can try to go through the participating schools, but practically, there is no way that the school can either (a) stop it with their fans OR even if they did (b) make other fans not act like a rival school’s fans to try and get them in trouble. In short, while those rules about communication are on the book, they are entirely unenforceable and completely devoid of power.
Players at times like receiving these communications, but in general even if the NCAA cant enforce its rules, communicating with recruits is a BAD IDEA. Unless you are a tremendously hot girl, chances are you not someone the player wants to talk to. And if the comments I have seen many UK fans leave these players are any indication, the only thing that is being communicated is the relative dorkiness of the person leaving the message. I know you want to help and the occasional Retweet or public comment about the passion of the UK fanbase makes you think you are. But really, most of the time you are just making the players roll their eyes and not doing anything helpful. As I learned a few years ago, I am not 17…and you probably arent either. And the communication and cultural and generational gap is large…dont try to cross it.
The NCAA will try to do something…but I am not sure what they can do. We have entered a brave new world and for better or worse (and its mostly worse) fans are now part of the recruiting process. God help us.