The Race for the NCAA to Monitor Technology Advances
Let me first say, I am a huge NCAA fan from a business and sport competition perspective – but this seems to be a no win situation. Some of you may have seen a semi-humorous article in Bloomberg the other day. Well, it may not be funny if you work at the NCAA in Enforcement or if you are a coach that is not an early adopter of new technologies. Anyway, the Bloomberg Article, IPhone Athletes Race Past NCAA Cops, is about the realities of trying to keep NCAA rules one step ahead of the athletes and coaches.
It kind of reminds me of the 1980’s when we watched East German “female” swimmers dominate the Olympics insisting they were not using steroids. The drug tests simply couldn’t stay ahead of the motivated steroid chemists with tests to detect the new substances continually coming out to help them cheat. As a quick reminder, the NCAA passed a rule prohibiting coaches from texting recruits effective August 2007, not that long ago. Short Messaging Services (SMS), or text messages, were actually first used in 1992 but they didn’t seem to become part of our daily lives until the early 2000’s. So, it basically took the NCAA seven years to recognize and address a technology change that was impacting recruiting.(Although the NCAA did take into consideration communication through other electronic means, including video phones, video conferencing and message boards on social networking Web sites as part of the 2007 ban.)
At this rate, maybe new legislation will be passed relating Twitter in 2014.
Within the realm of technology- which you probably embrace if you are reading this- things change soooooo fast. What is cutting edge one day is old-school the next. So, the NCAA virtually has no chance in keeping up with tech savvy coaches and how they use technology to recruit. If it isn’t specifically prohibited by NCAA rules, then coaches will use whatever they possibly can to give themselves an edge. Plus, with this generation of young people, we have to meet them in their “space” whether that means via Twitter, Facebook, Blogs, or whatever is next to influence their decision-making – and recruiting is all about influencing decision-making. Maybe the NCAA should embrace technology as a necessary part of doing business in this day and age instead of limiting its use. I don’t have an answer and wish I could be as optimistic and trusting as Chris Radford of the NCAA, who noted in the Bloomberg article, “We have to trust our membership.”
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