NOTRE DAME — Tony Alford needs to learn how to text sometime between now and Aug. 1.
The self-described technology-impaired Notre Dame recruitment coordinator says he’s handy with Facebook, but not so much with text messaging. Since, as of Jan. 19, coaches will be allowed unlimited contact with recruits through text messaging, Tweeting and calling during open-communication periods, Alford has a few months to get accustomed to the tiny letters on his phone.
NCAA’s recruitment rule changes have been received with mixed feelings by coaches. Big Ten coaches and athletic directors issued a statement Monday, Feb. 11, expressing their reservations.
“We have serious concerns whether these proposals, as currently written, are in the best interest of high school student-athletes, their families and their coaches,” the statement read. “We are also concerned about the adverse effect they would have on college coaches, administrators and university resources.”
Alford shrugged off concerns shared by his peers, saying texting isn’t a far step from contacting recruits via Facebook or email, which were already allowed under the old rules.
“As far as the texting goes, when you’re Facebooking a young man, that comes through the phone anyway,” Alford said Feb. 6. “I don’t know if it’s going to make that big of a difference. Time will tell. You’re going to go recruit under the rules that you have.”
Head coach Brian Kelly has mixed feelings on unlimited texting and calling, saying the changes will “make recruiting even more intense.”
While Kelly expects the amendments to clear up the gray area between when and how it is acceptable to communicate with or receive communication from potential recruits, he is wary of how much more the open communication will put on the plates of the high school players.
Kelly’s main concern surrounds new proposal 13-5-A, “which will eliminate restrictions on sending printed recruiting materials to recruits.”
“I think that’s probably the most significant change that’s going to require a fulltime analysis of how you do your recruiting mailings now,” Kelly said at his National Signing Day press conference on Feb. 6. “It was pretty simple. Everybody was standard. Now you may have some schools sending out Fatheads and colored brochures. I don’t want to get into a marketing and promotions department. So that’s probably one of the things that concerned us a little bit.”
Overall, Kelly doesn’t see the new rules affecting coaches’ day-to-day recruiting too drastically.
“The contact periods are still going to be the contact periods,” he said. “Now we’re just talking about more contact. No, we’re talking about everybody that uses a smart phone, they may use it just a little bit more. I don’t think it’s going to be to the point where it’s going to distract our coaches. They’re pretty sharp. They know that recruiting time is recruiting time, and I think we make enough time for it.”
As for making staff adjustments to anticipate the new rules, Kelly said he would consider bringing a non-coach recruiting coordinator on board.
“I think all of it will be something that we look at and find out what’s the best way to put this together,” he said. “You know, I think it’s going to require some time to think it through. We don’t want to be left behind on it, either. And we won’t be. We’re going to be at the front of all the new trends and opportunities to continue to build your program the right way. And so if it turns out that we’re going to have to go in that direction because of what’s happening, we’ll be ready for it.”