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If you're a college football fan who tweets at recruits, you're committing an NCAA violation

by Jason Kersey Modified: December 19, 2013 at 10:15 pm •  Published: December 19, 2013

NORMAN — With the regular season finished and high school All-America games — and, of course, lots of major recruiting announcements — nearing, I’ve noticed an increase in Twitter activity between fans and recruits.

Now seems like as good a time as any to remind everyone: If you tweet at a recruit and encourage him to attend your favorite school, you’ve committed an NCAA recruiting violation.

It doesn’t matter that you’re not a donor, a season-ticket holder or even affiliated with the university in any official capacity. You can’t publicly lobby a recruit on behalf of a school.

For example, five-star running back Joe Mixon, one of the most coveted recruits in the 2014 class, tweeted Thursday afternoon, “Where are them Oklahoma Fans at?! #BoomerSooner”

As of 9:30 p.m. Thursday night, 172 people had retweeted it, and dozens more responded with things like “Boomer!” and “Boomer Sooner!”

All. NCAA. Violations.

Mixon is hardly the only high-profile recruit to act that way on Twitter, and really, is that a surprise to anyone? These are 17- and 18-year old kids who love attention.

At Big 12 Media Days in July, OU coach Bob Stoops was asked about fans on Twitter, and responded, “I don’t see it stopping. In today’s world, once things get rolling, it’s not stopping. … You hear that OU fans? We have to get on board.”

A few days later, the official OU Twitter account tried to clarify Stoops’ statement: “Comment in Dallas on Twitter wasn’t meant literally. Reminder — NCAA prohibits fan contact (with) prospects in person, via phone, online.”

Last February, just before signing day, OSU beat writer Gina Mizell and I teamed up for a project on social media and recruiting. You can read that story here.

NCAA spokeswoman Kayci Woodley clearly told us in an email for that story that fans are prohibited from contacting recruits.

“Fans cannot contact a recruit and attempt to entice them to attend a certain school, as this is a violation of NCAA rules,” read Woodley’s statement. “If a school comes across an instance of this happening, it is expected they would reach out to those athletics personnel, fans and boosters and reinforce the ground rules related to communicating with recruits. This communication outreach would most likely be reported to the NCAA, which would show the school is doing their due diligence to abide by the NCAA rules.”

Now, is the NCAA going to come after every single fan who tweets at recruits? Is OU going to be punished because of 172 retweets?

Probably not, just because of how immensely difficult it would be to police such activity.

Even so, why risk it? Does anyone actually believe Joe Mixon is going to choose OU because of fans on Twitter?

Bottom line: Tweeting at recruits is, beyond the shadow of a doubt, an NCAA violation. So if you’re doing it, you should probably stop.

by Jason Kersey
OU Sports Reporter
Jason Kersey became The Oklahoman's OU football beat writer in May 2012 after a year covering high school sports and OSU recruiting. Before joining the newspaper in November 2006 as a part-time results clerk, he covered high school football for...
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