Author: Malcolm MacLeod
While the use of social networking in college recruiting was once limited to NCAA Division I and II collegiate athletics, the NCAA passed a motion at its annual convention last month to bring Division III sports into the mix. The recruiting process for high school athletes has changed drastically in recent years courtesy of the advents of social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter. These networks have made it easier than ever for college coaches to interact with prospective athletes. Adding social networking to the recruitment repertoire shows the NCAA is readily and positively embracing technology as a benefit to the college recruitment scene.
Opponents of social networking as a recruiting tactic would agree with the Student Athlete Advisory Committee’s Dalaine Whitlock, who affirms that social media removes the boundaries between prospects and recruiters and that the deregulation doesn’t take the proper path toward an even playing field.
Social networking rather should bolster the relationships between student-athletes and the coaches looking to recruit them. The ability for athletes to promote themselves to coaches around the country is one of the greatest advantages of social networking in the recruiting process. High profile Division I recruits, or blue chips, will have all kinds of coaches calling them, coming to their games and meticulously analyzing their highlight tapes. However, social networking is a fantastic resource for any athlete to put their name out to the recruiting market. Spreading the word about one’s potential as an athlete is now as simple as attaching a YouTube highlight reel to a message and waiting for the video to garner attention.
There are strict NCAA regulations stating when and how coaches can communicate with their recruits. Social networks are now subject to similar regulations, but some NCAA representatives are unsure how exactly to deal with certain aspects of this new dynamic. For instance texting, writing on a player’s facebook wall or tweeting at or about specific players is strictly forbidden. But directly messaging them is within regulations. With a great deal of high school students carrying smart phones, recruiters will continue to find ways around their limitations on texting by taking advantage of social media.
Additionally, as the NCAA continues to infuse social networking into the recruitment process, these recruiting techniques will longer become suspect. Coaches and athletes should see the freedom of the web as positive method by which both parties in the recruiting process can determine if a player will fit into a certain team or institution.
Any student athlete would readily capitalize on an opportunity to get their name name out there if it meant attending a dream school, and social networking provides many athletes with a means by which to seek out such opportunities. Occidental, for instance, looks for a very specific kind of student-athlete, so athletic directors and administrators alike should be agreeing to separate the wheat from the chaff, both athletically and academically.
Around the world we are adapting in order to take full advantage of these networks and their potential. As any resource that provides students with greater opportunities to get an education and play the sports they love, the social hub should be a tool to whole-heartedly embrace.
Mack MacLeod is an undeclared first-year. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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