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OU football: Yes, no, maybe — did Jay Norvell's tweets violate NCAA rules?

Granted, it's likely that the NCAA would see all of these as secondary violations, not major penalties for the Sooners. But in an athletic department that has had its share of problems with impermissible contact with recruits, this might signal a bigger issue.
by Jenni Carlson Published: February 24, 2012

“Tweeting is permissible as long as coaches are not using it to contact individual prospective student-athletes and are abiding by the standard recruiting rules such as not discussing specific recruits or contacting them when it is not permissible.”

But then upon clarification, I learned that a coach can contact an athlete using “a prospective student-athlete’s MySpace or Facebook account using the e-mail inbox feature.”

First of all, most high school kids nowadays don’t even remember when MySpace was popular, much less have an account. And second, Twitter wasn’t mentioned, so you have to assume the direct-messaging feature is equivalent to that e-mail inbox feature.

Maybe sending those recruits a DM is what Norvell, or whoever was manning his account Tuesday morning, intended to do. It wouldn’t be the first time a tweet intended for the privacy of direct messaging was instead posted where everyone could see.

One wrong click, and everyone gets to check out your newest secondary violation.

Twitter is a world where more and more coaches are headed these days. With text messaging prohibited in recruiting — the recent elimination of that ban for men’s basketball coaches will be interesting to track — social media is one way for coaches to connect with recruits. And by connecting, I don’t necessarily mean something illegal. A recruit can follow a coach and get a sense of their personality, their likes, their dislikes. That sort of thing can create a connection without doing anything that violates NCAA rules.

By the looks of it, up until Tuesday morning, that’s exactly what @CoachJayNorvell had done. There were motivational messages and scripture verses. There were photos of walk-throughs to road trips. A couple weeks ago, there was even the announcement of the Norvell family’s newest acquisition — a 10-week-old pit bull named “Bleu.”

Nothing harmful.

But now, OU compliance officials should be asking some questions about what appeared on that Twitter account Tuesday morning.

Much ado about nothing?


Unless it isn’t.

by Jenni Carlson
Jenni Carlson, a sports columnist at The Oklahoman since 1999, came by her love of sports honestly. She grew up in a sports-loving family in Kansas. Her dad coached baseball and did color commentary on the radio for the high school football...
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