More Chatter, Less Substance among Other Concerns with NCAA Contact Rule Changes

By Steve DiMiceli

It's not uncommon for policy changes to have latent consequences no one saw coming. While they are intended to improve safety and consumer experience, heavy regulations in business often make it more difficult for entrepreneurs to enter an industry due to increased start up expenses. A company that spends less on health care coverage to save money up front could end up losing money long run due to sicker, less productive employees  who begin to avoid doctors for fear of out of pocket deductibles. Likewise, there could be an unintended consequences to the NCAA changing their policy on how often coaches can contact recruits. In the age of Twitter, I expect a lot more chatter to erupt daily connecting recruits to schools. With more chatter comes more meaningless chatter. It might also become yet another distraction to students during the school year.
Already, my twitter feed has blown up with this recruit getting a call from this coach and this assistant texting another 2014. The line between real interest and making use of unlimited access becomes a very blurred line. Where is the motivation by a coaching staff to exercise restraint at this point? Truth is there really isn't. With more contact there will be recruits willing to report it, but it's impossible to evaluate how sincere that contact is. I expect our recruiting list on the message board to explode to an unprecedented length, but with two scholarships to give, the length does not mean much. Clearly, the vast majority won't even have a chance to become Dukes. Scholarship offers will probably still mean something, but interest or even heavy interest probably won't mean as much.

Don't get me wrong, I approve of the rule change with some reservation.  In fact, I applaud the spirit of it. The NCAA deserves praise for bucking the stance held by most stodgy, bureaucratic institutions generally unwilling to accept technological and social changes until many years later. They got with the times sooner rather than fighting it and deserve credit for it. However, there aren't limits that I've seen on when they can contact these kids  aside from class standing and I do have a problem with that. High school students should not be allowed to receive texts during the school day or late at night. They are students after all. I have concerns that increased contact will distract athletes from their studies and could push some prospect on the academic borderline into non - qualification.

However, if the NCAA were to open up recruiting further, it should extend evaluation periods. While deregulated contact will allow coaches to get to know players personalities better, they still have limited amount of opportunities to evaluate a players talent in person. They should be able to work out character issues with players, but it won't get them any closer to figuring out who can and cannot actually play at their level. Doing both might have the latent effect of cutting down on the number of transfers effecting D-I basketball.

Bottom line, I don't think this rule change is all bad. However, I would take a lot of the recruiting news we hear into question since a player being contacted by a coach simply is not as meaningful as it used to be. I'm also concerned that it could hurt kids in the long run.