As anyone within 100 feet of a message board or Alan Cutler has certainly heard over the last two days, the newest controversy in Cat-land is concerning “MySpace-Gate”, a devastating affair where Kentucky fans have been going on recruits’ personal myspace accounts and leaving them messages asking them to come to Kentucky. Matt May of the CatsPause did an interview with Sandy Bell, UK’s Director of Compliance, where she said that such messages were NCAA Violations and thus were putting the school in a compromising position. It was even alleged that a recruit, one Deandre Jordan had dropped UK from his list based on the messages given by the fans (although this claim is dubious since it did not come from Jordan himself). The story hit full blown crisis mode when it was used as more fodder for the Tubby debate (“Another excuse” vs “This is why we cant recruit”) and the story took on a life of its own.
I will make this short and sweet. I am sure that the Myspace comments are an NCAA violation. But so is everything, including singing loving songs into Woo’s ear and I guarantee you that this takes place all around Lexington. Stopping communication between fans and recruits, while currently against NCAA rules, is a fool’s game. The rules were set up to combat the influx of “boosters” who would tell recruits why they should come to a school with thousand dollar handshakes. However these rules simply are antiquated and not realistic in the current landscape.
The problem is that you have adults trying to oversee a technology they dont understand. So here, I will explain it…..EVERYBODY from the age of 24 down has a myspace account….and many of us that are older do as well. It is how the current generation communicates. So it is no surprise that fans, seeing a kid’s site will communicate on it….in the same way that they see him at a high school game and tell him to come to UK (which happens all the time, especially for local kids). The technology makes the communication easier, but it is no different than what has occurred forever. Trying to literally, make a federal case out of it, simply will not work.
Having said that, one of May and Bell’s points is important. Some of the stuff being put on these kid’s sites is silly. To put pictures of young women with virtually no clothes may entice many kids, but it may scare some off. Whether Deandre Jordan did or did not care about the pictures (folks he wasnt coming to UK anyway) is irrelevant. These pictures and corresponding messages look….to a 17 year old who is not from the UK culture….pretty pathetic. Rather than “showing off our pride for the program”, these posts paint UK fans as pathetic losers….not something you want these kids to believe. When a kid gets 200 friend request from UK fans, he may actually find it creepy, and that is why I would say to all who consider doing it….DON’T. Patrick Patterson doesnt think you are cool, and you just need to accept that.
This story will blow over in a couple of days….but in the meantime, it should be remembered that this “battle” to alter fan behavior is a losing proposition. Neither the NCAA or the member schools can really stop it, so making public statements is of little help. But I would hope the fans voluntarily quit…..believe me, the Dynasty Defenders and their attempts at jokes and friendship will NOT make Jai Lucas want to come here.