Friday, June 26, 2009

An Idiot's Guide to Interacting With Recruits | by Kevin

This should be a tome shorter than the "Famous Jewish Sports Legends" leaflet. In a word: don't. Don't email recruits. Don't call recruits. Don't visit recruits at their homes.

All pretty obvious, right? Allow me to add a fourth: do not become Facebook "friends" with or otherwise communicate on Facebook or Myspace with recruits. In a recent interview with Irish Illustrated's Pete Sampson (exempted from this rule: it's his job to serve as a conduit between recruits, the ND staff, and fans), consensus #1 defensive end prospect and current Irish oral commit Chris Martin mentioned he received 243 messages yesterday from purported ND fans, reacting to reports Martin was considering visits to other schools. Apparently, the messages were a mix of the supportive and the angry.

Allowing that some, or even many, of these messages could have been written by fans of other programs, with the goal of undermining Martin's relationship with Notre Dame (and there is Facebook precedent for such conduct), none of this is appropriate.

First, NCAA regulations forbid written communications between alumni/financial supporters of a school and recruits. Notre Dame's Compliance Office provides simple guidelines, among them an instruction that one "MAY NOT" (in all-caps), "make any recruiting contacts with prospects or their relatives. This includes telephone calls, letters, emails, and facsimiles, along with any face-to-face contact either on or off-campus." Though "Internet social networking sites" are not among the non-exhaustive list, it's a safe bet such communications are within the intended spirit of the rule. I'd rather not find out the hard way.

Second, college recruits are, by definition, high school students. Adults should not initiate contact with high school students they do not already know. You should no sooner seek the friendship of Chris Martin or Anthony Barr than you should start emailing out of the blue a random junior at some high school in Dubuque. It's weird, to put it lightly.

Third, this brings up a broader point about recruiting. We as fans can do precious little to positively influence the recruiting process. Leaving to the side the issue of whether negative message board discussions of coaches and seasons are appropriate or detrimental, attempts to directly influence recruits will probably not achieve their desired effect. Like trying to mend fences with an ex who has obtained a restraining order, chances are the harder we try, the more likely we are to fail. And when bad news emerges -- and it will, every year for every team -- emoting, like urinating, is an act best done in private. Notre Dame is the subject of several popular message boards, but the ownership of an NDNation or Irish Illustrated "handle" does not mean one cannot instead use tried-and-true methods such as private emails, screaming in a car with the windows rolled up, or throwing a lamp into the wall when bad news hits.

Finally, for those of you worried about the future of the Chris Martin-Notre Dame relationship, relax. I think all will turn out fine in the end.

Lo Wood just wrote on my Wall and told me so.