Posts Tagged NCAA

Episode 52 – NCAA Tourney Preview (Part 1 of 2)

Posted on: March 17th, 2014 by jayhawktalk No Comments

The bracket is finally out. We know where we are going and who we are playing. We will be bringing you more information about KU’s competition with our preview podcast coming out tomorrow, but we wanted to do a quick podcast giving you our instant reactions to the bracket. That is this.

Find the Podcast on iTunes HERE (Please subscribe, rate, and comment!!)

Find the Podcast on Podbean HERE (non-Apple mobile devices)

ROCK CHALK!

Photo Credit: Gamedayr

Bill Self should name Wiggins’ dad assistant coach

Posted on: April 25th, 2013 by jayhawktalk No Comments

Credit: Brian Spurlock-McDonalds

One NBA scout says he is the best player to come out of high school in 10 years. Another says no one in high school or college basketball is on his same level. Still another says he would start for most NBA teams today if he were allowed in the league.

And there’s a chance this player could be wearing KU blue next year.

There’s also a chance he could be wearing Kentucky blue, North Carolina blue, or Florida State bl…garnet. Regardless, KU has a chance. Perhaps not a one-in-four chance, but a chance nonetheless. If Andrew Wiggins is anywhere near as good as everyone says he is, then there is no reason why coaches shouldn’t be pulling out all the stops to lure him to campus.

I’m not talking duffel bags of money or a new tractor for the family or a new house and job (nod to all the Blue Chips fans out there). I’m talking about the gray area in the recruiting game — the area every single high major program operates in.

Kansas is very good at operating in the gray and has been for some time. It’s time to continue this tradition of not breaking an NCAA rule but also not not breaking it too.

Let’s give his dad a front row seat to the games. Give him access to practice, to the locker room, to the team jet. Give him cool blue threads with three stripes and tell him not to worry about the lack of swoosh. Give him a competitive salary commensurate with others in his profession. And we can do all of this without breaking any NCAA rules.

Self needs to name pops KU assistant coach.**

** For this to work, a few assumptions need to be made: First, Andrew Wiggins would come to KU if Self named Mitchell Wiggins as assistant coach. Second, Andrew would probably not commit to KU if Self didn’t give Mitchell the job. Third, Self is cool with all the shit he would take from his peers and the media for making this move. Got that out of the way? Awesome. Let’s continue.

Some history is necessary. You might recall a certain other #1 recruit lured to Kansas after his father was named assistant basketball coach. The father’s name was Ed, and prior to arriving in Lawrence, he had been a truck driver for three years. Ed did play some professional basketball at one point, including two seasons on the Carolina Cougars of the ABA. But he had been out of basketball for some time. It didn’t stop him from taking the job when he got the phone call.

Ed received a good salary from Kansas. Somewhere between $27,000 and $30,000. He also received the use of an automobile — a 1983 Chevrolet Caprice.

And Ed also brought us Danny. And Danny brought us a championship.

Here’s another history lesson you might recall. A man named Ronnie was a head high school basketball coach, amassing a very impressive 109-28 record and two state championships. He had 20 years of basketball coaching experience, though on a much smaller scale than high major Division 1 hoops. Nevertheless, he was asked to join KU’s coaching staff and was given a shiny title as “Director of Basketball Operations.” Coincidentally, perhaps, Danny Manning was also on the staff at the time. He, too, had a shiny title: “Director of Student-Athlete Development.”

Ronnie brought us Mario. And Mario brought us a championship.

Catching a trend here?

It’s time to hire Mitchell Wiggins.

He too has some player and coaching experience. He played in the NBA (stints with Bulls and Rockets). He coached something called the Hickory Nutz and the Spearfish Black Hills Heat too. In short, he’s perfect for the job!

Because he can bring us Andrew. And perhaps Andrew can bring us a championship.

You might be wondering if this practice is even allowed under NCAA rules. In the years following the Ronnie Chalmers addition, other schools began hiring family members and AAU coaches in director-type roles in order to secure players. The NCAA finally caught up to this practice and instituted the IAWP (Individuals Associated With a Prospect) rule. It pretty much banned the hiring of individuals “associated with a prospective student athlete in any athletics department noncoaching staff position” (NCAA Bylaw 11.4.2).

But the above rule applies only to noncoaching positions (i.e., “Director of Basketball Operations” and “Director of Student-Athlete Development”), not coaching positions. And it just so happens KU has an open assistant coaching position waiting to be filled.

The timing could not be more perfect. Kansas is done with the 2013 recruiting class for the most part. Self and Co. may find a transfer or two, but Wiggins is really the only ’13 target left on the board that would require an assistant coach’s recruiting prowess. For the most part, Self won’t have to worry too much about 2014 either. Norm Roberts and Kurtis Townsend are very capable recruiters and Self can play closer role with guys like Okafor, Jones, Winslow, Whitehead, Vaughn, and Pope. If there is ever a year to be fine without a third established assistant coach or recruiter, it is this one. Plus, let’s be honest, this would be a 1-year contract.

So get on the horn, Coach Self. Bring Mitchell to Kansas. Bring Andrew to Kansas. And bring that next father-son championship to Kansas.

It has worked before.

 

There is more to a championship team than “guard play”

Posted on: March 28th, 2013 by jayhawktalk 1 Comment

“Guard play wins NCAA championships.”

If you’ve been around college basketball long enough, you’ve heard this old adage. It’s a very easy (read: lazy) way to attempt to understand what a team will need in order to weave its way through the madness of March and emerge victorious in April. Pundits gravitate toward it even more once the smoke of the first weekend subsides — when all that’s left is a pool of legitimate contenders.

Pundits are pundits for a reason. They are usually very capable at breaking down and analyzing a team’s makeup and then will use this analysis to help handicap and predict the team’s chances versus another team. When comparing a team against the field, however, assumptions must be made. This is when we get into the lazy adages.

This particular adage is drawn from a number of assumptions. It is first based on the premise that the tournament normally ends up coming down to guys that can create — not only for themselves but for their teammates. It assumes that the guy with the ball has the power to both make or break you. It assumes that you can game plan and strategize against a post threat, but it’s much harder to take a guard out of the game. It assumes that if you’re faced with a must-make situation, everything starts with the guard. To an extent it also assumes defense doesn’t matter.

That’s all well and good, but I ask that you allow me to introduce you to a couple of gentlemen you might have heard of. Their names are Danny and Anthony.

Danny was not a guard. He was 6’10. His height and skill set propelled him to one of the most impressive performances of all time in an NCAA tournament game — 31 points, 18 rebounds, 5 steals, and 2 blocked shots against OU in the 1988 Championship Game. This was no fluke. His teammates might have earned the moniker, “the Miracles,” but he was just Danny. And he was good. Darn good.

And Danny wasn’t a guard.

Anthony flew slightly lower under the radar in his MVP Championship Game performance (at least as low as he could for a 6’11 guy with a mustache above his eyes). He didn’t score 31 points. In fact, he went 1-10 from the field with six points. How does a guy with 6 points win MVP of college basketball’s most important game? Size. Effort. Rebounding. Defense. He had 16 rebounds, 6 blocks, 5 assists, and 3 steals. Not to mention the plays that didn’t show up in a box score.

I chose two examples that I thought would hit closest to home for KU fans. These are not the only instances of big guys leading their teams to NCAA championships.

Let’s fast forward to the present. KU will be facing off against a Michigan team on Friday that probably has the best guard tandem in the country. Tim Hardaway, Jr. and Trey Burke are probably better than some recent tourney tandems that come to mind too — Juan Dixon and Steve Blake of Maryland, Jay Williams and Chris Duhon of Duke, Charlie Bell and Mateen Cleaves of Michigan State.

If guard play is, in fact, the best measure of success, then Kansas is in trouble.

But there’s one little thing the pundits don’t seem to want to talk about. Something that isn’t near as flashy or sexy as scoring guards.

There are 5 guys on the other bench wearing crimson and blue that take more pride in guarding than they do in scoring.

And this is dangerous.

Michigan destroyed the media’s darling in VCU — a team that some pundits said had the “best defense in the country.” This is a farce. They were the best trapping team in the country. Trapping and defense are not the same thing.

Michigan guards were salivating at the idea of facing a trapping VCU team. Much like Kansas guards were salivating at the idea of facing Mike Anderson’s UAB team in the 2004 regional semifinals. “40 minutes of hell” can be a double edged sword if you face guards that can break it. Michigan broke VCU’s 1-2-1-1 zone press with ease.

But they will not break Kansas.

The difference is that Kansas plays smothering man-to-man defense — a defense designed to take advantage of individual athleticism but has just as much of a team element as any zone defense. It is also a defense that, when run correctly, will rarely give up an uncontested basket. Last, it is a defense that is based 100% on effort, energy, and most importantly, pride.

With four senior starters and a freshman fifth unlikely to return, KU’s effort, energy and pride ought to be at an all-time high. I imagine it will result in a defense Michigan has never seen before.

Unlike VCU, Kansas doesn’t have to turn teams over to be successful. It only needs to pressure them into bad shots and then crash the hell out of the boards. This is KU’s bread and butter. And while it isn’t nearly as exciting to talk about, I believe it will prove far more important on Friday than any old adage about guard play.

When faced against top 10 defenses this year, Michigan was 2-4. And not one of those six teams included a shot blocker of any merit.

Withey may not be the next in line to be mentioned in the same sentence as Anthony and Danny. But I do believe his play is just as likely as any guard to be the reason that Kansas advances on Friday.

Stick with an adage that works.

Keep calm and Rock Chalk.

 

 

Why Michigan is a good matchup for Kansas

Posted on: March 27th, 2013 by jayhawktalk No Comments

(Editor’s Note: The following is brought to you by JHT Contributor, @CrimsonBlueKU. Give him a follow on twitter for more KU insight. Rock Chalk!)

The Jayhawks will be arriving in Dallas Wednesday night as it prepares for Friday’s game against the Wolverines of Michigan.

Back in January when these two teams were ranked Nos. 1 and 2 in the country (Michigan: 1, Kansas: 2), I thought this could be a potential Final Four matchup. Well, we’re seeing it in the Sweet 16 and I’m not complaining. We’re going to see Michigan’s potent offense against Kansas’ suffocating defense. It’s going to be fun.

I’m going to try and explain why this matchup is great for Kansas. Had this been Kansas/VCU Part Deux, I think it would have been a nightmare. VCU’s havoc defense would put a lot of pressure on KU’s guards and they’d force a lot of turnovers. Luckily, we don’t have to talk about that.

Michigan does a very good job of taking care of the basketball. It averages 9.3 turnovers a game — best in the nation. The Jayhawks don’t do a very good job turning teams over, forcing 12.7 per game (220th in the nation). Kansas on the other hand, as we all know, has a huge problem hanging on to the ball. Poor dribbling, bad passes, dumb mistakes. But Michigan forces less turnovers than Kansas. They don’t put heavy pressure on the guards, which is good for Elijah Johnson and Naadir Tharpe.

Both Michigan and Kansas shoot relatively well from deep, 38 percent and 36 percent, respectively, but the Wolverines take 34 percent of their shots from outside. Kansas will have to key on Tim Hardaway (43 percent of his shots come from outside) and Nik Stauskas (60 percent). I have a feeling Ben McLemore and Travis Releford can give them all sorts of fits.

Michigan’s All-American point guard Trey Burke is fantastic. He does a good job at creating his own shot off the dribble and he shoots better than 40 percent. He does a good job at taking care of the ball and distributing to his teammates.

Where Michigan struggles is inside. If you look at the roster, the Wolverines have size, but I think Withey, Young and Ellis will give Mitch McGary, Jordan Morgan and Jon Horford fits inside. McGary is just a freshman and he’s never seen a big like Withey. Morgan gives up four inches to Withey and  Horford doesn’t get many touches. Kansas blocks 23 percent of shots at the rim, whereas Michigan only blocks eight percent. Also, Michigan allows opponents to shoot 62 percent from close while Kansas holds teams to 51 percent.

If Michigan is going to beat Kansas, it’s going to be from outside, but I don’t think that’s going to happen. Shooting in a dome, especially Jerry World is much different than shooting in a regular arena. Shooters use the ceiling as markers and domes have higher ceilings, which throws off depth perception.

Kansas is the 12th best rebounding team in the nation, while Michigan is 141st. If the Jayhawks can clean up the glass on the offensive end and score-second chance points, it’s going to be difficult for Michigan.

Kansas, as we all know, is defensively sound. They’re the best team in the nation in opponent’s field goal (35.7 percent) and effective field goal percentage (41.1 percent). If anything is going to give, I believe it will be Michigan’s offense, ranked No. 2 by KenPom (120.9 points per 100 possessions). We saw Michigan State’s defense, ranked No. 6  by KenPom (86.1 points allowed per 100 possessions) shut them down.

We’ve seen Kansas struggle on offense at times, but it’s 25th in the country scoring 74.9 points per game.

Kansas’ offensive and defensive KenPom numbers are similar to Michigan State: No. 5 on defense (85.4 points allowed per 100 possessions) and No. 31 on offense (111.2 points per 100 possessions). Michigan State’s offense is 21st (113 points/100).

Michigan’s defense gives up 92.5 points per 100 possessions. John Beilein does slow it down, but they can get out and run and they’re fantastic on the fast break.

If Kansas can take care of the ball, force Michigan to miss from deep and play this game in the paint, it has a very good chance of advancing to play Florida or Dunk City on Sunday.

Rock Chalk!

Prediction
Kansas: 74
Michigan: 67

 

To follow or not to follow – a look at recruiting and social media (2013 ed.)

Posted on: February 13th, 2013 by jayhawktalk No Comments

The NCAA has always grappled with technology and how it affects recruitment.  As the world becomes smaller with every technological advance, antiquated NCAA bylaws become a joke to try to enforce as written.

I should explain up front that I personally follow a number of Kansas basketball and football recruits on my twitter account, @JayhawkTalk. I even interact with them from time to time. The substance of this interaction can be anything from a “retweet” of what they say (E.g., if a potential recruit tweets something like “I am going to have my in-home visit with Kansas Coach Bill Self this Monday. Can’t wait,” it would get retweeted by a ton of KU fans) to a simple suggestion or nudge that KU is a great place to be.

There has been quite a bit of discussion of late as to what kind of interaction I am allowed to have with recruits, if any. Is “following” them violative of NCAA bylaws? What about mentioning and interacting with them? What if they reach out to me first asking for feedback?

I wanted to spend some time researching these issues so that I could become more knowledgeable about what is allowed, not allowed, and everything in between. I wanted to share this with you because I don’t think many understand it very well. I certainly did not.

I should also add that while I am an attorney, I am not writing this to provide any sort of legal advice. This is my own opinion and analysis of what I have found, both in the actual bylaws and how those bylaws are enforced. In other words, should you get a cease and desist letter from a compliance official, take it seriously.  Don’t rely solely on this review as the word.

With that out of the way, leggo.

Texting while recruiting

When text messaging became popular around 2005, parents of recruits began to complain to NCAA officials that their mobile phone bills were rising with every text a coach sent. The NCAA made a blanket response by banning texts to recruits completely in 2007.

When asked to comment about the texting ban (which had just gone into force), Anna Chappel, then head of the NCAA Division I Student-Athlete Advisory Committee said, “If you don’t stop it now, what roads are you going to have to cross later on?”

She could not have expected at that time that the rise of social media networks would force regulators back to the drawing board only a few short years later.

What to do with Facebook, Twitter

Like texting, it took the NCAA a while to figure out what to do with Twitter and Facebook. When the NCAA became convinced that Facebook private messaging and Twitter direct messages were, for all intents and purposes, just like emails, they decided not to regulate them any different than email (email, like regular mail, is unlimited after a recruit’s junior year, subject to certain restrictions).

To the NCAA, it was much easier to try to mold the ever-changing social media world to its existing rulebooks.

Square peg, round hole comes to mind.

After likening direct messages to emails, the NCAA deemed that posting on the Facebook Wall of a recruit or sending a Twitter reply or mention was just like publicizing a player’s recruitment in the media, which isn’t allowed. Regulators again chose to mold new Internet networking into rules already on the books.

But this strategy would only get the NCAA so far.

Not surprisingly, technology continued to advance. It became apparent that recruits were receiving Facebook and Twitter messages from coaches directly to their phones and mobile devices.  Regulators were once again faced with a technological dilemma. Is receiving a Facebook message too much like a text message? Or is it more like an email? Or, worse yet, is it some new blend that would force the NCAA to create new legislation?

Not surprisingly, the NCAA still remained steadfast in adapting technology to its own rules.

It issued bulletins stating that once a coach discovers that a recruit is receiving messages to his or her phone, that coach must cease contact through that medium. Certainly not the easiest rule to police.

As coaches became further disenchanted with texting, phone, and social media rules as written, the NCAA did what the NCAA does best: it threw the issue to a committee. Luckily for coaches, it does finally seem that the NCAA is willing to deregulate some forms of electronic communication, including text messaging.

In January, the NCAA approved a number of wide-ranging changes to the recruiting landscape, including the removal of restrictions on electronic communications, mailings, and even calls. Some coaches haven’t appreciated this new “Wild West” approach to recruiting, most notably those coaches of the Big 10. Regardless, it is a rare step in the direction of common sense for the NCAA. After all, these bylaws are virtually impossible to enforce.

So what does this all mean for fans?

Nearly all decrees and rule changes made by the NCAA regarding electronic communication revolve around the recruitment relationship between coach and player. Very little has been said about what kind of interactions fans and recruits can have through social media. That is probably because to the NCAA, this issue is much more black and white.

Fans and boosters should have no interaction with recruits at all.

Not that it’s stopped anyone. Take Taylor Moseley, for instance. In 2009, Moseley, a North Carolina State freshman, created a Facebook group called “John Wall PLEASE come to NC STATE!!!!”  After more than 700 people joined the group, Moseley received a cease and desist letter from the N.C. State compliance department. It became a national story as First Amendment rights activists went to bat for Moseley by speaking out in the media on his behalf.

Moseley eventually changed the name of the group. (Not sure if the NC State compliance office confiscated this sign featured on ESPN or this painting done for Julius Randle. I digress.)

It’s important to note that multiple other people created Facebook groups encouraging John Wall to come to their respective school, including students at Baylor, Duke, and at least four groups for Kentucky.  There is no indication that the compliance departments at Baylor, Duke, and Kentucky made any such effort to reach out to those students.

What are the schools saying to fans?

We learned two important things from the Moseley fiasco:

First, the NCAA did not ask Moseley to take down the Facebook group or change the name – North Carolina State did. There are very few, if any, reports of the NCAA actually policing individual people from interacting with recruits via social media. That job is tasked to the individual universities, which generally consists of a handful of overworked compliance officers.

Second, compliance departments are not uniform in the way they police interaction among fans and recruits. N.C. State was obviously more proactive in its supervision of students and boosters online. But for every N.C. State department, there are 100 Kentucky departments, which, for one reason or another, do not (or choose not) to police such activity.

Most university compliance departments have a blanket policy on social media on the department website. For instance, North Carolina states the following in one of its bulletins to boosters:

“The use of social networking sites such as Facebook and MySpace can very easily be used by individuals in an attempt to influence prospective student-athletes to attend a specific institution. The NCAA prohibits any involvement by boosters in the recruitment of prospects, and individuals who might initiate these attempts to contact prospects could jeopardize the institution’s ability to continue the recruitment of such prospects.”

Other departments are trying to get more interactive by starting their own Twitter and Facebook accounts. You might see @JayhawkComply on twitter, which recently authored this tweet: “All faculty, staff, students and boosters of KU cannot promote KU in any way or encourage a prospect to attend KU, Leave this to coaches.” In anticipation of Julius Randle’s visit this weekend, it also wrote: “KU Fans: NCAA rules prohibit you from recruiting prospects and publicizing their visit to campus, including signs* in AFH during a game!”

**Speaking of signs, I have heard of KU taking away a sign at a game, but only after the recruit in attendance saw it. In other words, bring your Julius Randle signs to the game. The worst thing that could happen is they take it away. Then just start some Randle chants. Doesn’t hurt.

If you continue to look around at other departments, you’ll see more and more of these vague, blanket, overarching statements loosely referencing the NCAA and it Bylaws. All will have the same basic message: Don’t do it.

Now for the real world.

The reality is that university compliance departments have a lot on their hands. They’re understaffed, they’re overworked, and they simply do not have the resources to track everything on the Internet. They must track athletes already at the university as well as prospective ones. It’s an incredibly difficult task.

Consider this scenario: I create an account called “MUTigerBooster” and start tweeting to potential Missouri recruits to come to Missouri to achieve all the riches in their wildest dreams. I could tell them I’ll provide cars, women, booze, drugs, pizza, STD tests, whatever. All MU could do is tell me to stop. There is no subpoena power. There is no name associated with the account. And it is incredibly unlikely that Twitter would disclose IP addresses or contact information. It is a nightmare for compliance folks.

But what can they do?

**Sidenote: Some university departments are turning to computer programs and outside firms to help police online content from their athletes. One such company is UDiligence, which uses custom keyword lists to catch problems before they occur. For a good time, check out the UDiligence website page where they show images that they have caught. Pretty funny stuff.

I contend that over 99% of the online interaction between fans and recruits will not receive any response from the university the fan represents. Don’t confuse this as tacit approval of the action from the university. It’s not. But policing online content on social media websites would take 100 employees, not 5. That being said, most of the time if a violation is reported to compliance officials, they will look into it and issue a request to stop the behavior if it is found to be violative.

**Another sidenote: I’m sure by writing this piece I will be getting a message the next time I reply to a tweet from Julius Randle or Tyus Jones.

My take

The most interesting part of this whole thing? The recruits want you to tweet them. They want as many followers as they can possibly get, and the attention from a particular school’s fan base does have an effect on what school that guy chooses. To say otherwise is ignorant.

Obviously that also means that coaches secretly want fans tweeting to prospects too. It hammers home the recruiting pitch that if you come to Kansas, you’ll be beloved by all of KU nation – and you can see that’s already happening on your twitter feed. Coaches may come out and say that they don’t need the extra help, but I would argue that they are not being truthful. It doesn’t hurt to have some extra help, especially when every other school is doing it too.

I think there is a competitive advantage in the recruiting game to have a fan base on social networks that follow and interact with recruits. Even though the NCAA and the university compliance department tells me not to, I will continue to follow, retweet, and interact with recruits.  And I actually encourage you all to do the same.

Obviously you have to be smart and tactful about it. When tweeting, do so in a classy and respectful manner. And if a player doesn’t choose KU, wish him well and call it a day.

But until I see equal policing across the board from other Division I compliance departments that KU competes with, I will maintain my position on this.

Happy tweeting.

A bunch of words on #KUboobs

Posted on: March 27th, 2012 by jayhawktalk 2 Comments

For a team to make it to the Final Four of this tournament, it has to have some degree of luck along the way.  Whether that luck is in the form of an injury to the opposing team’s most important player, or a last second three-pointer to tie clanking off the back of the rim, you have to appease the basketball gods to make it this far.

Even extraordinarily talented teams like Kentucky have been blessed with a relatively injury-free season (and a temporary reprieve from NCAA investigators who will no doubt vacate this season in the future).

This degree of luck is what makes fans do odd things in the name of superstition.  By this time of the season, everyone has a game day ritual or custom.

For instance, my fiancée wanted nothing to do with going out to watch the game yesterday because our new television is “lucky.” I know people that change shoes, play musical chairs, and wear a specific ensemble because to do otherwise would obviously curse the team.

I can’t really judge. I’ll never watch a KU tournament game inside four Lawrence-area bars ever again (I won’t name them, just in case they’re your lucky places).

This superstitious behavior has spilled over to the KU twitterverse in a way that I don’t think any of us could have ever imagined.

It all started with a single tweet from @MommyLovesWine, a Kansas City based KU alum and fan. The day of the KU vs. MU game in Lawrence, she posted a “twitpic” of herself (from the neck down) in a KU shirt with a message that KU needed a little boob for luck.

That day KU came back from a 19-point deficit to win.

Kansas fans always talk about the “PHOG” inside Allen Fieldhouse that cosmically dooms opposing teams before the ball is even tipped. Of course, the PHOG doesn’t always travel to neutral courts and games played in domes.

But #kuboobs apparently does.

During the Purdue game last Sunday, Kansas needed every bit of luck, voodoo, and sorcery it could come up with to stop the Boilermakers from making every shot they took. Once again, #kuboobs made an appearance.

Except this time, the twitter hashtag began to take a life of its own. More KU women (and even some men) began tweeting their own pictures from the neck down. After the Jayhawks narrowly escaped in Omaha, many on Twitter began asking themselves if the #kuboobs tweets gave KU the extra “lift” it needed on the court?

The KU twitterverse is enormous. I have previously opined that it is the most social media savvy college fan base there is right now. The evening of the North Carolina State game only reemphasized that point.

Because #kuboobs went viral.

At one time, it was trending worldwide on twitter, just below #operationBIEBERBLAST, Kevin Love, and #ThingsIDoWhenIGetBored. There were many more photos going up and with each one, a big response from those tracking (read: stalking) it.

Twitter user, @djsoap, a local DJ and avid Jayhawk fan, used his 14,000+ twitter follower clout to get the message out. He and others have championed each new picture with a retweet and comment. It even prompted a twitter handle devoted entirely to the phenomenon, @kuboobs.

And you know what? KU found a way to beat the Wolfpack.

By now you know the rest of the story. Kansas topped North Carolina with great defense, great coaching, and, of course, the overwhelming support of #kuboobs.

Most hash tags eventually flame out pretty quickly. Especially those that arise from a particular event. There’s a chance this one might too, what with the Final Four being on Bourbon Street in New Orleans and all.

Then again, maybe it is here to stay.

@MommyLovesWine (her real name is Tiffany) told me today she has gained over 250 followers today and over 500 since the Purdue game. And while the #kuboobs response has been predominately positive – some are even using it to promote breast cancer research and awareness – there have been a few people who have called it a little racy at best and pornographic at worst.

Personally, I’m all for it. Not for the obvious reason, either. Just like I refuse to slam your game day superstitions, I won’t slam #kuboobs either.

I’m not sure that came out right.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that if twitpics of you in KU attire helps you feel like you’re doing your part to keep the Jayhawks alive in the tournament, then by all means, keep doing it.

And who knows, maybe #kuboobs will be the reason the Jayhawks bring home the cup.

Err, trophy.

 

To follow or not to follow – a look at social media and recruiting

Posted on: December 15th, 2011 by jayhawktalk No Comments

The NCAA has always grappled with technology and how it affects recruitment.  As the world becomes smaller with every technological advance, antiquated NCAA bylaws become a joke to try to enforce as written.

I should explain up front that I personally follow a number of Kansas basketball and football recruits on my twitter account, @JayhawkTalk. I even interact with them from time to time. The substance of this interaction can be anything from a “retweet” of what they say (E.g., if a potential recruit tweets something like “I am going to have my in-home visit with Kansas Coach Bill Self this Monday. Can’t wait,” it would get retweeted by a ton of KU fans) to a simple suggestion or nudge that KU is a great place to be.

There has been quite a bit of discussion of late as to what kind of interaction I am allowed to have with recruits, if any. Is “following” them violative of NCAA bylaws? What about mentioning and interacting with them? What if they reach out to you first asking for feedback?

I wanted to spend some time researching these issues so that I could become more knowledgeable about what is allowed, not allowed, and everything in between. I wanted to share this with you because I don’t think many understand it very well. I certainly did not.

I should also add that while I am an attorney, I am not writing this to provide any sort of legal advice. This is my own opinion and analysis of what I have found, both in the actual bylaws and how those bylaws are enforced. In other words, should you get a cease and desist letter from a compliance official, take it seriously.  Don’t rely solely on this review as the word.

With that out of the way, leggo.

 

Coach Self Laughing at Dooley commentary

Coach Self laughs at Dooley's commentary

Texting while recruiting

When text messaging became popular around 2005, parents of recruits began to complain to NCAA officials that their mobile phone bills were rising with every text a coach sent. The NCAA made a blanket response by banning texts to recruits completely in 2007.

When asked to comment about the texting ban (which had just gone into force), Anna Chappel, then head of the NCAA Division I Student-Athlete Advisory Committee said, “If you don’t stop it now, what roads are you going to have to cross later on?”

She could not have expected at that time that the rise of social media networks would force regulators back to the drawing board only a few short years later.

 

What to do with Facebook, Twitter

Like texting, it took the NCAA a while to figure out what to do with Twitter and Facebook. When the NCAA became convinced that Facebook private messaging and Twitter direct messages were, for all intents and purposes, just like emails, they decided not to regulate them any different than email (email, like regular mail, is unlimited after a recruit’s junior year, subject to certain restrictions).

To the NCAA, it was much easier to try to mold the ever-changing social media world to its existing rulebooks. Square peg, round hole comes to mind.

After likening direct messages to emails, the NCAA deemed that posting on the Facebook Wall of a recruit or sending a Twitter reply or mention was just like publicizing a player’s recruitment in the media, which isn’t allowed. Regulators again chose to mold new Internet networking into rules already on the books.

Cole talking to recruits

Cole Aldrich stops by to talk to recruits

But this strategy would only get the NCAA so far.

Not surprisingly, technology continued to advance. It became apparent that recruits were receiving Facebook and Twitter messages from coaches directly to their phones and mobile devices.  Regulators were once again faced with a technological dilemma. Is receiving a Facebook message too much like a text message? Or is it more like an email? Or, worse yet, is it some new blend that would force the NCAA to create new legislation?

Not surprisingly, the NCAA still remained steadfast in adapting technology to its own rules.

It issued bulletins stating that once a coach discovers that a recruit is receiving messages to his or her phone, that coach must cease contact through that medium. Certainly not the easiest rule to police.

As coaches became further disenchanted with texting, phone, and social media rules as written, the NCAA did what the NCAA does best: it threw the issue to a committee. Luckily for coaches, it does finally seem that the NCAA is willing to deregulate some forms of electronic communication, including text messaging. For more info, check this out from the NCAA.

But what does this all mean for fans?

Nearly all decrees and rule changes made by the NCAA regarding electronic communication revolve around the recruitment relationship between coach and player. Very little has been said about what kind of interactions fans and recruits can have through social media. That is probably because to the NCAA, this issue is much more black and white.

Fans and boosters should have no interaction with recruits at all.

Not that it’s stopped anyone. Take Taylor Moseley, for instance. In 2009, Moseley, a North Carolina State freshman, created a Facebook group called “John Wall PLEASE come to NC STATE!!!!”  After more than 700 people joined the group, Moseley received a cease and desist letter from the N.C. State compliance department. It became a national story as First Amendment rights activists went to bat for Moseley by speaking out in the media on his behalf.

Moseley eventually changed the name of the group.

It’s important to note that multiple other people created Facebook groups encouraging John Wall to come to their respective school, including students at Baylor, Duke, and at least four groups for Kentucky.  There is no indication that the compliance departments at Baylor, Duke, and Kentucky made any such effort to reach out to those students.

 

Self argues with a ref

Coach Self argues with a ref

What are the schools saying?

We learned two important things from the Moseley fiasco:

First, the NCAA did not ask Moseley to take down the Facebook group or change the name – North Carolina State did. There are very few, if any, reports of the NCAA actually policing individual people from interacting with recruits via social media. That job is tasked to the individual universities, which generally consists of a handful of overworked compliance officers.

Second, compliance departments are not uniform in the way they police interaction among fans and recruits. N.C. State was obviously more proactive in its supervision of students and boosters online. But for every N.C. State department, there are 100 Kentucky departments, which, for one reason or another, do not (or choose not) to police such activity.

Most university compliance departments have a blanket policy on social media on the department website. For instance, North Carolina states the following in one of its bulletins to boosters:

“The use of social networking sites such as Facebook and MySpace can very easily be used by individuals in an attempt to influence prospective student-athletes to attend a specific institution. The NCAA prohibits any involvement by boosters in the recruitment of prospects, and individuals who might initiate these attempts to contact prospects could jeopardize the institution’s ability to continue the recruitment of such prospects.”

Other departments are trying to get more interactive by starting their own Twitter and Facebook accounts. You might see @JayhawkComply on twitter, which recently authored this tweet: “All faculty, staff, students and boosters of KU cannot promote KU in any way or encourage a prospect to attend KU, Leave this to coaches.”

If you continue to look around at other departments, you’ll see more and more of these vague, blanket, overarching statements loosely referencing the NCAA and it Bylaws. All will have the same basic message: Don’t do it.

 

Now for the real world

The reality is that university compliance departments have a lot on their hands. They’re understaffed, they’re overworked, and they simply do not have the resources to track everything on the Internet. They must track athletes already at the university as well as prospective ones. It’s an incredibly difficult task.

Consider this scenario: I create an account called “MUTigerBooster” and start tweeting to potential Missouri recruits to come to Missouri to achieve all the riches in their wildest dreams. All MU could do is tell me to stop. There is no subpoena power. There is no name associated with the account. And it is incredibly unlikely that Twitter would disclose IP addresses or contact information. It is a nightmare for compliance folks.

But what can they do?

**Sidenote: Some university departments are turning to computer programs and outside firms to help police online content from their athletes. One such company is UDiligence, which uses custom keyword lists to catch problems before they occur. For a good time, check out the UDiligence website page where they show images that they have caught. Pretty funny stuff.

I contend that over 99% of the online interaction between fans and recruits will not receive any response from the university the fan represents. Don’t confuse this as tacit approval of the action from the university. It’s not. But policing online content on social media websites would take 100 employees, not 5. That being said, most of the time if a violation is reported to compliance officials, they will look into it and issue a request to stop the behavior if it is found to be violative.

**Another sidenote: I’m sure by writing this piece I will be getting a message the next time I reply to a tweet from Chris Walker or Dayne Crist.

 

My take

The most interesting part of this whole thing? The recruits want you to tweet them. They want as many followers as they can possibly get, and the attention from a particular school’s fan base does have an effect on what school that guy chooses. To say otherwise is ignorant.

Obviously that also means that coaches secretly want fans tweeting to prospects too. It hammers home the recruiting pitch that if you come to Kansas, you’ll be beloved by all of KU nation – and you can see that’s already happening on your twitter feed. Coaches may come out and say that they don’t need the extra help, but I would argue that they are not being truthful. It doesn’t hurt to have some extra help, especially when every other school is doing it too.

I think there is a competitive advantage in the recruiting game to have a fan base on social networks that follow and interact with recruits. Even though the NCAA and the university compliance department tells me not to, I will continue to follow, retweet, and interact with recruits.  And I actually encourage you all to do the same.

Obviously you have to be smart and tactful about it. When tweeting, do so in a classy and respectful manner. And if a player doesn’t choose KU, wish him well and call it a day.

But until I see equal policing across the board from other Division I compliance departments that KU competes with, I will maintain my position on this.

Happy tweeting.