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 "Technology and the NCAA - An Analysis Of Bylaws And..." 
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Post "Technology and the NCAA - An Analysis Of Bylaws And..."
Technology and the NCAA - An Analysis Of Bylaws And Regulations
by: Heather Pederson




The early 1990s brought a huge boom in technology throughout the world with the Internet, cell phones, and electronic mail. This expanding technology is seen everywhere from text messaging to camera phones and people can communicate with others from across the world at just the touch of a button. The technology of today is ever intensifying and the possibilities seem endless. Intercollegiate athletics and coaches recruiting are taking full advantage of escalating technology. Some coaches are even willing to jeopardize their institution’s reputation by disobeying rules set up by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) to gain that extra inch in recruiting prospective student-athletes.

The NCAA is the most prominent governing body of intercollegiate athletics. The NCAA's mission statement clearly indicates what they stand for:

Our purpose is to govern competition in a fair, safe, equitable and sportsmanlike manner, and to integrate intercollegiate athletics into higher education so that the educational experience of the student-athlete is paramount.

The NCAA is continuously trying to maintain amateurism in intercollegiate athletics to preserve its original purpose and remind people that college is not a business but a place of education. Part of the NCAA's job is to ensure the recruiting of prospective student-athletes does not get out of control and each institution has a fair and equitable chance of recruiting a prospective student-athlete. While the NCAA tries to monitor the recruiting processes of intercollegiate coaches, it becomes increasingly difficult with expanding technology. The NCAA is drowning in its ability to keep up with the wireless world we live in.

The latest issues at hand are the rules regarding text messaging and instant messaging. Currently electronic correspondence may be sent to a prospective student-athlete after September 1st of their junior year in high school. There are no limitations on how much a coach contacts a prospective student-athlete by text messaging, e-mail or instant messaging.

Phone calls are obviously restricted to one phone call a week during the recruiting period for most sports. Sports such as basketball have a slight exception. The question raised becomes where do you draw the limit on electronic correspondence. Text messaging itself poses a whole new dilemma on permissible activities allowed by coaches. Do you treat text messaging as an electronic communication or a phone call? Do you limit how many times a day or week someone can text a prospective student-athlete?

The NCAA is trying to restrict electronic correspondence somewhat. The NCAA passed a bylaw (13.1.7.2) to restrict communication to times in which the prospective student-athlete is not in competition. According to the interpretation of electronic correspondence while the prospect is at competition, this includes electronically communicated information as well. The problem arises when the coach obviously is unaware of when a prospective student-athlete is participating in competition. This problem increases in the summer months because a prospect could be competing in various non-scholastic recreation activities at all hours of the day or week.

It also brings up the debate on whether or not a prospective student-athlete should be contacted during the school day. It is okay to contact a prospective student-athlete while they are engaged in academic activities but not athletic activities? What kind of message are we sending to young athletes? Are the NCAA and college institutions saying that athletics are more important then their high school education?

There have been several proposals presented by the NCAA regarding electronic correspondence. One such proposal goes as far as saying:

Electronically transmitted correspondence (e.g., electronic mail, Instant Messenger, facsimiles, pages, text messaging) that may be sent to a prospective student-athlete is limited to electronic mail and facsimiles. All other forms of electronically transmitted correspondence (e.g., Instant Messenger, text messaging) are prohibited.

The reasoning behind this proposal is because unlimited electronic correspondence is becoming problematic for prospective student-athletes and coaches. Coaches are feeling compelled to contact prospects at all hours of the day. Prospects are feeling the burden of receiving unlimited text messages and may even feel a little strain in their pocketbooks. For the most part, each committee and cabinet has rejected the proposal stating that is too restrictive in nature. Although this particular proposal will most likely not pass, there needs to be some sort of restriction on the amount of times a coach can contact a prospective student-athlete. Another proposal has been submitted that limits the time frame in which a prospective student-athlete may be contacted. This proposal is a step in the right direction but most committees oppose it feeling that something must be done but this is not quite what the NCAA is looking for.

Once a bylaw does pass on restricting electronic communication, how does an institution monitor it with complete accuracy? For telephone calls, an institution is permitted to examine call logs made by coaches. With text messaging and instant messaging, it is very difficult to monitor the communication activity taking place between individuals.

The NCAA has taken action on some problems associated with electronic correspondence and recruiting prospects. The interpretation issued on July 27, 2006 states that only individuals with recruiting abilities are permitted to make contacts and prepare documentation for prospective student-athletes. For example, a basketball director of operations may send an e-mail prepared by a recruiting coach but may not actually write the e-mail. This prevents people of non-recruiting status to send prospects information electronically or by general correspondence. Sometimes administrative staff would like to be involved in the recruiting process but this interpretation limits people like athletic directors and president’s of the university from making direct contact with a prospect.

This article clearly states that technology has posed many problems for the NCAA and intercollegiate athletics. Hopefully this problem will be resolved shortly so prospective student-athletes are not constantly bombarded by intercollegiate coaches. There is enough stress involved with being in high school to worry about answering e-mails and texts from intercollegiate coaches.

RELATED NCAA BYLAWS AND INTERPRETATIONS

13.4.1.2 Electronic Transmissions (Bylaw)

Electronically transmitted correspondence (e.g., electronic mail, Instant Messenger, facsimiles, pages, text messaging) may be sent to a prospective student-athlete. Color attachments may be included with electronic mail correspondence sent to a prospective student-athlete, provided the attachment does not include any animation, audio or video clips and there is no cost (e.g., subscription fee) associated with sending the item attached to the electronic mail correspondence.

2006 Educational Column -- NCAA Division I Bylaw 11.7.1.2 - Recruiting Coordination Functions (I) (Interpretation) Date Issued: Jul 27, 2006

NCAA Division I institutions should note that with the adoption of NCAA Division I Proposal No. 2005-77-B, effective August 1, 2006, all recruiting coordination functions (except routine clerical tasks) must be performed by a coach who counts toward the numerical limitations of head or assistant coaches (NCAA Division I Bylaw 11.7.4) in all sports. Such functions include:

1. Activities involving athletics evaluation and/or selection of prospective student-athletes.

2. Telephone calls to prospective student-athletes (or prospective student-athletes' parents, legal guardians or coaches).

3. Preparation of general recruiting correspondence to prospective student-athletes (or prospective student-athletes' parents or legal guardians).

Further, inasmuch as telephone calls are a recruiting-coordination activity, it is not permissible for athletics department staff members (other than a coach who counts toward the numerical limitations of head or assistant coaches or other specific staff members pursuant to legislated exceptions), including volunteer coaches (Bylaw 11.01.5), to make calls to or receive calls from prospects (or the prospects' parents, legal guardians, or coaches) that may involve conversations related to the recruitment of the prospects.

Finally, institutions are reminded that electronically transmitted correspondence (e.g., electronic mail, instant messenger, facsimiles, pages, text messaging) must be prepared by a coach who counts toward the numerical limitations of head or assistant coaches (Bylaw 11.7.4). It is permissible for an individual other than a coach who counts toward the numerical limitations of head or assistant coaches to send the correspondence; however, this individual may neither respond to correspondence from nor prepare correspondence to prospects. For example, a coach who counts toward the numerical limitations of head or assistant coaches composes a message to be sent to a large group of prospective student-athletes. Such a message may be provided to a staff member that is not a countable coach (e.g., administrative assistant, graduate assistant, director of operations, volunteer coach) and that individual may coordinate and engage in the act of sending the message to the intended r!

ecipients. In this manner, while the institutional staff member who is not included in the numerical coaching limitations actually sent the correspondence, the coach who counts toward the numerical limitations of head or assistant coaches prepared the content and, thus, satisfied the provisions of Bylaw 11.7.1.2.

Electronic Correspondence while a Prospect is at the Site of Competition (Interpretation)

Date Issued: Sep 15, 2006: The committee determined that an institution's coaching staff member may not send electronic correspondence (e.g., text or instant messages, e-mail) to a prospect while he or she is on call for competition at the site of the competition (e.g., arena, stadium). Electronic correspondence may be sent to the prospect while the prospect is on call and not at the site of competition or while the prospect is at any location once the appropriate authority has released him or her. The committee noted that in men's and women's basketball, additional restrictions preclude communication with prospects during summer certified events and the July evaluation periods, respectively.

13.1.7.2 Practice or Competition Site (Bylaw)

Recruiting contact may not be made with a prospective student-athlete prior to any athletics competition in which the prospective student-athlete is a participant during the day or days of competition, even if the prospective student-athlete is on an official or unofficial visit. Contact includes the passing of notes to a prospective student-athlete by a third party on behalf of an institutional staff member.

2006-40 RECRUITING -- RECRUITING MATERIALS -- ELECTRONIC TRANSMISSIONS (Proposal)

Status: Management Council Initial Formal consideration

Intent: To specify that electronically transmitted correspondence that may be sent to a prospective student-athlete is limited to electronic mail and facsimiles.

B. Bylaws: Amend 13.4.1.2, as follows:

"13.4.1.2 Electronic Transmissions. Electronically transmitted correspondence (e.g., electronic mail, Instant Messenger, facsimiles, pages, text messaging) that may be sent to a prospective student-athlete is limited to electronic mail and facsimiles. All other forms of electronically transmitted correspondence (e.g., Instant Messenger, text messaging) are prohibited. Color attachments may be included with electronic mail correspondence sent to a prospective student-athlete, provided the attachment does not include any animation, audio or video clips and there is cost (e.g., subscription fee) associated with sending the item attached to the electronic mail correspondence."

2006-41 RECRUITING -- RECRUITING MATERIALS -- COMPUTER MEDIATED COMMUNICATION -- TIME PERIODS (Proposal)

Status: Management Council Initial Formal consideration

Intent: To define computer-mediated communication as any form of communication (except electronic mail) between two or more individuals who interact and/or influence each other via separate computers through the Internet or a network connection using social software; further, to specify that an institution may not initiate computer mediated communication with a prospective student-athlete prior to September 1 of the prospect's junior year of high school and that such communication is limited to the hours of 4 to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday based on the time of the location where the prospect resides.

"13.4.1.2 Electronic Transmissions Computer Mediated Communication. Electronically transmitted correspondence (e.g., electronic mail, Instant Messenger, facsimiles, pages, text messaging) Computer mediated communication (see Bylaw 13.02.15) may only be sent to a prospective student-athlete subject to the following restrictions:

"(a) Monday through Friday 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. (time of location where the prospect resides).

"(b) Saturday and Sunday 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. (time of location where the prospect resides).

"13.4.1.2.1 Exception -- Electronic Mail. Electronic mail is exempted from the application of Bylaw 13.4.1.2.

References

NCAA (2006). 2006-2007 NCAA Division Manual. Indianapolis, IN.

NCAA (2006). Legislative Services Database for the internet. Retrieved on October 12, 2006 from https://goomer.ncaa.org/wdbctx/LSDBi/LSDBI.home.

About The Author
Heather Pederson

Hometown: Midland, MI

Undergraduate Degree: Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI, (BS, Kinesiology- Exercise Science, Cognate- Sport Administration, Health Specialization

Work Experience: Compliance Assistant, Central Michigan University, (1 year);

Recreation Front Desk Supervisor, Crystal Mountain Inc., (1 year);Wellness Service Leader and Assistant Athletic Director, The University Club Fitness Center & Spa, (1 year); Sports Camp Director and Youth Sports Assistant, YMCA of Lansing- Parkwood Branch, (3 years)

Future Internship Interest(s): Compliance Department – Intercollegiate Athletics

Career Aspiration: Compliance Director for Intercollegiate athletics; International Athletics for Youth Sports

Current Position: Compliance Assistant – Central Michigan University



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