For those resistant to deregulation in college basketball recruiting, the idea of granting coaches the power to text recruits without limits seemed almost apocalyptic.
No limits? On any of it? Preposterous. Think of the overwhelming flood of messages from head coaches and assistants! “What about the children?!” they cried.
But one year after the NCAA lifted that limitation and allowed unlimited electronic communication between coaches and recruits, the sky is not falling. We’ve yet to see college basketball recruiting plunge into a black abyss because the last thread holding it together, limited communication, was severed.
All is calm on the Western front.
And for those who love free markets, there are even signs of self-regulation blossoming on an otherwise tightly regulated landscape. The best example came this weekend during the annual NBPA Top 100 Camp in Charlottesville, Va., where some of the nation’s best high school players gathered for one of the biggest individual exposure camps of the early summer.
The start of that camp coincided with June 15, the date that coaches are allowed to text Class of 2015 recruits for the first time. Reports began to surface on Twitter that some players who were getting mass text messages from certain coaches and were essentially began to "share notes," realizing that they were receiving the same generic, robotic greeting from one or more coaches.
A blanket text message to, say, 10 elite recruits, some of whom are friends and are competing together that weekend? That’s a sign of a coach or program allowing the market to help weed itself out. It's a sign of a staff that doesn't understand the intricacies of that form of communication, a minor slip-up with rather embarrassing short-term consequences.
As Portland Pilots head coach Eric Reveno said on Twitter in response to the talk of what was going on at NBPA Camp, “Exactly why texting rule not a problem. Kids get it and see through insincerity.”
By deregulating, the playing field was actually leveled, working toward the parity that the NCAA often likes to cite. In previously putting a cap on communication, a mid-major school could only develop as much of a relationship with a player that way as a high-major school.
Now, the effort of a mid-major coach has the chance to trump the ambitions of a high-major, who is perhaps too spread out to focus attention on a certain player.
Less rules and a more even playing field? A thinner rulebook and some more parity in college hoops? Milton Friedman and Adam Smith rejoice.