Bronco recruits, boosters and social media: Where are the lines?

Bronco recruits, boosters and social media: Where are the lines?

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by Jamie Grey

Bio | Email | Follow: @KTVBJamieGrey

KTVB.COM

Posted on December 18, 2013 at 11:52 PM

BOISE -- As the coaching shake-up continues at Boise State, so too does the recruiting situation, and social media is playing a big role.

Quarterback Jalen Greene, who was expected to be on the Blue next year, posted on Twitter that he'd changed his commitment and will play for Coach Petersen at Washington.
   
But he's not the only one posting about his college career online: Bronco Nation and UW fans are too. Some have been encouraging Greene to follow the coach, others have simply said they think he should make his own decisions, and then there are people saying not-so-nice things to the recruit.

Here's are some examples of tweets while Greene was considering the switch and after making his decision: "Enjoy riding the bench under Coach Benedict... #loser." "What up JG 3rd string? At least you have a great view from the sidelines now, good luck with that Communications degree."
   
Other people were more or less just trying to convince Greene to stay with BSU, with tweets like: "Stay committed to BSU. You won't regret it. Bring us back to prominence." "The next step to the higher level starts with #BroncoNation #BleedBlue..."

The issue, however, goes beyond simple twitter chatter, and is actually something that the NCAA looks at, and rules prohibit in some cases.

Most directly, this is about boosters, which BSU says can include season ticket holders, someone who's donated to the university or has in any way promoted the athletics program.

There are rules against boosters contacting recruits. If broken, BSU's Associate Athletic Director for NCAA Compliance John Cunningham tells KTVB, there can be sanctions.

"These are institutional violations.  They do not attach to the prospective student-athlete. But when an institution files one of these violations there is potential, if the violation is egregious enough, for the institution to take some sort of action against the booster (e.g., taking away their season tickets, disassociating them from the program etc)," Cunningham said.
   
Because of anonymous names and how many messages may be posted, officials say social media contact between boosters and prospects can be tough to monitor, but it is an issue the school wants fans educated about.

"Social media interaction with recruits is consistently at the top of our list when educating our boosters about NCAA rules," Cunningham said.

Cunningham emailed the following Q&A on the topic of recruiting, boosters and social media:

Q: What is recruiting?
A:  Recruiting is any solicitation of a prospect or a prospect’s parent/legal guardian for the purpose of securing the prospect’s enrollment at Boise State and/or participation in Boise State’s athletics programs.
Recruiting activities may include (but are not limited to) letters, e-mails, faxes, telephone conversations, in-person contacts (both on and off campus) and social networking websites such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Q: Can a booster recruit for Boise State Athletics?
A:  No, only coaches and Athletic Department staff members may be involved in the recruiting process. NCAA rules specifically prohibit boosters from engaging in recruiting activities.  As a booster, you may not have contact with a prospect or the prospect’s family on or off campus. If a prospect approaches you regarding Boise State, please explain that NCAA rules prevent you from discussing Boise State athletics with him or her. This prohibition also applies to prospects making official visits to Boise State. Furthermore, you may not contact another institution’s student-athletes for the purpose of encouraging them to transfer to Boise State.

Q: Is it permissible for a booster to telephone or correspond with prospects once they have committed to, or signed a National Letter of Intent with Boise State for the purpose of congratulating them?
A: No. Even if the purpose of the call/correspondence is only to congratulate the prospect, he/she is still a prospect and contact rules continue to apply after committing or signing with an institution.

Q: Is it permissible for a booster to communicate with prospects and their families, whether in person or in writing to give them advice on choosing a college athletics program?
A: Generally, no. If a prospective student-athlete wrote or called you, you would be allowed to respond in writing or take the phone call and answer questions about the university that do not relate to athletics. Questions about athletics should be referred to a member of the coaching staff.

Q: Can a booster interact with a prospective student-athlete through Facebook, Twitter or any other social networking site?
A: No. A booster should not have any type of interaction with a prospective student-athlete through social network sites or forums.

Q: Are there any exceptions to having contact with a prospect?
A: Generally, no. Prospective student-athletes may not be contacted until they become student-athletes at Boise State.  However, contacts between a prospect and a booster regarding permissible pre-enrollment activities such as discussions about legitimate summer employment opportunities with a booster’s business can occur only after the prospect has signed a National Letter of Intent.

For more information about NCAA recruiting rules, click here to read BSU's page on the topic.
   

 

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