The question remains whether this piece of legislation that allows coaches to participate in a limited capacity actually helps the situation or creates a larger one. Should it be all or nothing with regard to publicity/recruiting/social media?
Having participated in a discussion at the Orlando Regional Rules Seminar, I can tell you there is still some confusion regarding the application of the new legislation (NCAA Proposal 2015-48). There are also a lot of concerns from the Compliance experts because there is a large institutional discretion component tied to the legislation. If questioned about a post, etc., institutions will have to defend the intent of the “questionable” material.
When determining what is permissible, please remember to view the situation with potentially three separate “legislative lenses”: electronic correspondence, publicity and endorsement.
- Electronic Correspondence: It remains impermissible for institutions to create materials to show to, play for or provide to PSAs
- On the surface, it seems logical that permissible materials would include those produced by the Admissions office or media materials that include general or athletics information.
- Those scenarios that should be reviewed on a case by case basis…and goes back to the earlier comment that institutions have to be ready to defend…are materials (e.g., video, streaming, pictures, re-published information) posted by coaches/staff members
- Things to consider:
- Who can view the material (e.g., public, friends/followers, some of which are prospects), private group, individual prospect?
- Was the information shared general in nature/factual (e.g., video of a practice) or would it be categorized as created for recruiting purposes?
- Publicity: NLI exception to the publicity legislation no longer applies to those that only sign admissions/financial aid letter or provide deposit.
- Endorsements: new legislation permits “action of approval” (e.g., like, love, share)
- Important note: TAGGING was removed from the legislation as a permissible action.
- Distinction with icons/emojis- if you react to a post (e.g., like, icon), that is permissible. If you post a smiley face or other emoji in the comment box, that is not permissible
- Things to consider:
Other social media issues being reviewed:
- How does the new legislation apply to the restrictions with recruiting sites? Clear that an institution cannot re-publish a post by a prospect that was originated by a recruiting/scouting service. What about a post that involves such a service that was originated by a prospect? NCAA is working on getting a confirmation on this issue.
- Interaction unrelated to athletics: new NCAA Staff Interpretation- 6/2/16-
Electronic Correspondence and Social Media — Department Other Than Athletics (I)- The academic and membership affairs staff determined that an institutional department other than athletics (e.g., admissions, alumni office, business school) may send electronic correspondence that is not private (e.g., post, tweet, repost, like/favorite) at any time, provided the institution’s athletics department is not involved in any way, the correspondence is not created for an athletics recruiting purpose and the department outside athletics is operating in a manner consistent with established policies and procedures regarding social media interaction with all prospective students.
[References: NCAA Division I Bylaws 188.8.131.52 (general exceptions); 13.4.1 (recruiting materials and electronic correspondence — general rule); 184.108.40.206 (electronic correspondence — general rule); 220.127.116.11.1 (exception — cross country/track and field, football and swimming and diving); 18.104.22.168.1.1 (exception — electronic transmissions after commitment — cross country/track and field, football and swimming and diving); 22.214.171.124 (other recruiting materials); 126.96.36.199 (comments before commitment); 13.10.3 (publicity after commitment); and a staff interpretation (12/5/13, Item No. a)]
Example- institution posts the following comment for a high school coach- “Happy Birthday! Hope you have a great day!!” This is probably the area of the legislation that will receive the most scrutiny and consternation. Does the membership simply take the words at face value or do all posts link back to a recruiting nexus?
- Identification of a particular prospect, prospect’s school or prospect’s team. Institutions need to make sure the membership is not able to make an identification based on the post. Examples include a school’s mascot/promotional slogan, prospect’s nickname
While maneuvering down this road, it is probably a good idea to keep your hazards on…at least until some additional clarification has been provided. Resource materials will be published after the conclusion of the Dallas Regional Rules Seminar.
And remember…as technology continues to evolve and the legislation surrounding the use of technology for recruiting attempts to keep up, there is one focal point to keep in mind:
It’s NOT the Message, It’s the Method!
To get caught up:
Part 1: http://bit.ly/Prop201548-1
Part 2: http://bit.ly/Prop201548-2