On April 1, 2011, the NCAA issued an interpretation of NCAA rules pertaining to recruiting services. The interpretation reads as follows:
The academic and membership affairs staff confirmed that a recruiting or scouting service includes any individual, organization, entity or segment of an entity that is primarily involved in providing information about prospective student-athletes. This definition includes, but is not limited to any service that provides information only to paid subscribers, any service that is only available to a select group of individuals (e.g., coaches), regardless of whether there is a charge associated with the service, and any service that provides information to the public free of charge; however, this definition does not include any individual, organization or entity or segment of an entity that provides information about prospective student-athletes incidental to its primary purpose and is generally available to the public (e.g. news media).
A couple of years ago, the NCAA and the membership started looking into regulating recruiting services by creating legislation that prohibits the use of recruiting services based on certain criteria. The necessity of legislation derived from men’s basketball where it was commonplace for AAU coaches and handlers to set up a faux recruiting service. Indeed, many of these individuals requested hundreds, if not thousands of dollars for generic information like Johnny can shoot a jumper and Billy is 6’5”. The NCAA and member institutions sincerely wanted to make sure that these individuals did not profit without reason. In many instances, the institutions felt obligated to purchase the service or lose out on the opportunity to recruit a prospect under the coach’s control.
The above-referenced interpretation crosses over into fan Web sites like Rivals, ESPN, and Scout, but the underlying legislation has broader implications on the future. As with many NCAA rules, the question is why is this so important that it needs regulation, especially the video component of legitimate Web sites? Specifically, among other things, recruiters cannot view highlights or footage related to nonscholastic competition or events. These types of rules (i.e., ban on text messaging) are difficult to enforce and contrary to technology. Research shows in five (5) to ten (10) years, we will no longer read the Web, but watch the Web. People like video and fast (i.e., YouTube). Indeed, ESPN is already in on the act. Any major story on ESPN.com is accompanied by a video description. Anyone can watch the report in twenty (20) seconds or read it in a minute in a half. It is time to consider (again) whether certain legislation is necessary. It seems a simpler version of NCAA Bylaw 13 would be easier to enforce and more likely to be followed.