in Digital Web

Twitter vs. the NCAA ban on text messaging by coaches

Problem: Texting has been banned between coaches and athletes by the NCAA since 2007.

Solution: Twitter.

I was working on something completely unrelated and it just occurred to me that Twitter would be a really powerful tool for recruiting scholarship athletes at major colleges. It might even be more MORE useful for coaches at smaller schools with limited budgets, seeking an opportunity to level the playing field and to connect with more prospective students.

Coaches could tweet about their program, include photos of practice, imagine including 12 seconds of footage from a top player saying “Hey man, we want you here. You’re the missing link.” Twitter could revolutionize the recruiting game, because it’d allow coaches to maintain contacts with student-athletes at all phases of the recruiting and get almost instant feedback from them.  Someone would pay a lot of money for that sort of information.

If a kid unfollows a coach? Chances are, that school is crossed off his list. School gets followed and hey, maybe they’re back in the game? Can imagine if a recruit decided to declare where he was going to school via Twitter, rather than some orchestrated “signing ceremony?”

Twitter works great for prospective student-athletes too.

I mean, what’s better than to find out what a coach feels after a hard-fought loss? Most student-athletes aren’t able to get the temperament of their coach (unless it’s someone famous like Bob Knight) until they’re already on campus. Twitter would give them a glimpse of what coach might really be like when the makeup off and whether they want to play for him (or her.)

It would give students a chance to talk about what’s on their mind after a visit. But the real gold mine here? DIRECT MESSAGES. A coach could DM a student athlete and they could write back and it’d be within the spirit of the rules, because the messages woul d The Luddites at the NCAA said that email is perfectly fine.

So in other words, spamming kids via email with glossy emails using Scoutware and it’s totally in-bounds, but texting is not. So Twitter or a clone would give coaches an opportunity to regain the recruiting edge they lost after the NCAA decided to return to the stone age. And there isn’t anything they can do about it.

Microblogging is just that, so unless they’re going to develop a policy on that to limit contact, it seems that coaches who are savvy enough to start using Twitter will be able to thrive for a while.

Good news for Twitter? Probably not. They don’t know anything about sports and college coaches have no idea how to use Twitter or why it’d be useful. (Of course, if someone want to hire me to help them figure it out, I’d be delighted to help… )

Plus, I don’t know how many high school student-athletes would use it unless their friends were doing it. But pitched the right way, I think Twitter is way better a recruiting tool than email, especially for student athletes. I’ve watched a millennial go through thousands of text messages in a month, but check email a few times a year. It’s more immediate, it suits their generation well and it kinda makes sense to some degree.

What do you think?

Reading, Writing and Big Ideas is a blog written by Ron Bronson sharing his thoughts about higher education web strategy, social media entrepreneurship and millennial workplace. Subscribe to the blog via RSS or email

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