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Original Issue

Generation Text

Coaches are flooding recruits with cellphone messages, and not everyone feels :) about it

The latest cooltool in the high school recruiting wars calls to mind nothing quite so much asthe notes passed between giddy adolescents:

Just thinkingabout you....
How'd the game go?
You're my main guy.

These are amongthe stock banalities that Colorado receivers coach Darian Hagan says he mighttext-message recruits during a typical week. "A lot of [recruits] prefertext-messaging" to an actual conversation, says Hagan, who says they are"less time consuming" than a phone call. While coaches are limited toplacing one call per week to the schoolboys who quicken their pulses, the NCAAruled in August 2004 that text messages are "general correspondence,"no longer counting as phone calls but as letters or e-mails, on which there areno restrictions. Thus was born a loophole recruiters haveenthusiastically--even frantically--exploited. Some top recruits reportreceiving 40 texts a day. (One kid told The Kansas City Star that he got beepedlate at night. Assuming it was his girlfriend, he responded, "I love you,good night," without reading the message--which happened to be from aCreighton basketball coach.)

But not all thepersuasive text messages come from coaches. Myron Rolle, a Florida State--bounddefensive back from New Jersey, told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution thatduring his official visit to Tallahassee, he received the following textmessage:

I'm excitedyou're looking at Florida State. [FSU President] T.K. Wetherell and I arefriends. When you come to Tallahassee again, let's hook up with each other.--Jeb Bush

"Incredible," says Peter Roby, director of Northeastern University'sCenter for the Study of Sport in Society. Roby believes that when it comes towooing blue-chips, coaches need to give their thumbs a rest. The reason forlimiting calls, he notes, "was to allow these kids to have a normal highschool experience." Bombarding them with text messages, he says,"violates the spirit of what [coaches] claim to be in favor of--being lessintrusive. Somebody's got to stand up and say, 'We need to do thisdifferently.'"

That somebodyshould be the NCAA. Maybe Myles Brand, that organization's president, couldshoot a text message to every athletic department--and governor's mansion--inthe land, telling them to back off.