With Signing Day in our recent rearview mirror and Junior Day occurring this past weekend, the temptation exists for all of us fans of a football team to reach out through social media to follow and make recruits feel welcome. It's an urge to get involved as fans because during the season, our coaches and players interact both on the field and through social media to let us know just exactly how much they value our input on Game Day and support through the week.
With that temptation in the front of our minds, here's your simple reminder:
Don't do it. Don't talk to them. Don't reach out to them. Don't tell them how much they would love BC and how much you love BC. Don't interact with them at all.
I'm not just reminding you this to talk about how creepy it comes across when a man in his 30s, 40s, 50s, or 60s talks to a 17 year old kid on social media. I'm reminding you this because, by the NCAA laws, it's 100% illegal.
That's right folks. If you tweet or interact with a recruit or BC athlete to tell them how much you think of them or love them on social media, it's considered an NCAA violation against the school.
Here's the explanation why:
Any individual acting on behalf of the school, whether they're a booster or a fan or have any other affiliation, face the same regulations as coaches, programs, or universities. It's the university's responsibility to monitor contact between boosters and prospective athletes. In the modern era of Twitter and Instagram, schools are hiring full-time staffers to monitor this. For compliance purposes, it can be very costly, both on the field and off, especially if the NCAA requires a school to pull a social media audit trail to ensure the purity of the recruiting trail.
It used to be that the term "booster" applied to someone who donated substantial amounts of money to schools. The boosters are guys like Phil Knight or Nevin Shapiro or guys that you either saw and trusted or thought were over the top (or downright illegal). The fact remains that a booster literally is translated to mean a person who sponsors the athletics department with their money. In lay terms, you're technically considered a booster if you buy tickets or merchandise from the school. If your money, in any way, shape, or form flows into the athletics department, you're actually a booster. Crazy, huh?
By reaching out and "recruiting" these kids or telling them things on Twitter or open social media, you're acting the same way a booster does. To the NCAA, regardless of what you think about them, you're the same as those old, stogey guys you would see in the 1980s for Texas high school football. There's no difference. It's a crazy concept.
That means your interactions with prospective student athletes actually could be construed as a recruiting violation. While it's nearly impossible for the NCAA to police this, you don't want to influence a school to go after or not go after a specific kid because of their interactions on social media. Coaches have enough to worry about during a given week, especially with their prospective athletes on social media as it is. There's no need to add to the stress, especially when dealing with high school juniors and seniors.
So let this be a lesson during the recruiting season and into the football season. If you have any questions about this, contact the university's NCAA Compliance office. Or just simply DON'T DO IT. Whether you agree with the NCAA or disagree, it doesn't matter. It's the law, and there's no need to jeopardize Boston College because you want to be the cool fan who welcomes a 16 year old kid to the school. If you would like to discuss recruiting and the recruits' role at BC, feel free to weigh in here or in other forums. But, whatever you do, don't talk to them directly.