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N.C.A.A. Cracks Down on Recruiting Sites

So here’s the news of the day: the N.C.A.A. has decided that institutions may not subscribe to recruiting sites like Rivals.com, deciding that such Web sites are not media organizations but scouting services. That the N.C.A.A. has decided that such sites fit into the latter category makes them off-limits, in the sense that Rivals or Scout.com provide recruiting videos not available to the general public. Let’s see if we can make sense of this decision.

For starters, are the recruiting videos really not available to the general public? They’re available to me, available to you, available to anyone with an Internet connection – is essence, doesn’t that make them available to the general public? Yeah, you have to plop down a certain amount of money per month or per year, but aren’t these recruiting sites in the business of making these videos available to the general public?

Well, there’s a secondary issue at stake, one beyond that simple publication of recruiting videos. According to those more familiar with how these recruiting sites work – Bryan Fischer of CBS is a great example – it’s not just about the videos but the interaction between the sites and the teams they cover. For example, according to Fischer, team-specific sites – say, a Georgia-centric site – often share information with coaches that may or may not be made available to its other paying members.

This is a shaky relationship, one the N.C.A.A. wants to stop. I can get behind this stance, I suppose: a site that passes along tidbits and items about a certain prospect grants a team a leg up in that prospect’s recruitment, even if another team site can do the same for a different team. Take this scenario: Georgia’s Rivals site tells Mark Richt or a Georgia assistant that one recruit is looking to go to the same school as a teammate, or is interested in playing one position over another.

Richt could then use this inside information when making his recruiting pitch, offering this top prospect’s teammate or making sure the recruit is aware his position of choice is available when he arrives in Athens. You can see why the N.C.A.A. might want to put a stop to such a dialogue.

So what if Rivals or Scout stopped charging for content? I suppose that would then become fine with the N.C.A.A., though the potential for the above dialogue between site and coach still exists. And that’s simply not a possibility, as these recruiting sites are in the for-profit business, and likely couldn’t exist merely on advertising money.

But money might not be the big issue for a Rivals. Think of it this way: the N.C.A.A. isn’t banning what these sites bring to the table altogether, merely banning F.B.S. teams from using the service they provide. So monetarily, Rivals and Scout are merely losing the $10 a month from the coaches they subscribe to the service. If each coach in the F.B.S. subscribed to a Rivals, the company would be losing about $10,000 a month. Yeah, that’s a sizable chunk of change, but not a loss that would doom the company to bankruptcy.

The truth is the relationship might be far bigger. Programs might be receiving added material, information that a team site doesn’t provide to its normal readership. In that case, a school might be putting down far more than $10 a month, in which case the financial loss would be far more substantial.

So here it is, boiled down to a nutshell as far as I can tell: the N.C.A.A. disapproves strongly of the purported relationship between team sites and coaches. That makes its statement that a Rivals is more scouting service than media organization valid, if somewhat improperly worded.

Want evidence that the N.C.A.A. is serious about this stance? It has asked every F.B.S. program that has subscribed to a recruiting Web site to report it as a secondary violation.

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  1. [...] … on recruiting sites. [...]

  2. Jay says:

    So coaches can no longer pay for the information. What if Coach X happens to be friends with guy at Recruiting Service Y. Over a cup of coffee, guy at Recruiting Service Y tells Coach X that a certain kid will only go to school if he can play RB. Is this illegal? Seems like he’d be getting same information, now only for free. Not exactly sure what the NCAA is stopping here.

  3. [...] etc.? Here is another interpretation, which gets to the heart of what I wrote about aboev: Pre-Snap Read: A College Football Blog __________________ Jon Miller Publisher jonmiller@hawkeyenation.com twitter.com/hawkeyenation [...]

  4. Dan says:

    Hmmm. Dozens of media outlets host recruiting videos. YouTube now hosts thousands. Sports Illustrated and Sporting News and ESPN all cover recruiting, will they ban SI and SN and ESPN subscriptions?

    In a similar vein, the NCAA and some conferences tried to stop schools from giving Rivals & Scout sites media credentials a few years back, and backed down quickly when threatened with suit. How can you credential ESPN but not Scout? And if they’re credentialed, how are they not a “media organization”???

    A very slippery slope indeed. I don’t see how this can be remotely legal.

  5. schedule nit says:

    Have you ever met any of the people from these sites? Brain dead degenerates who could never get work at a college program because of either zero knowledge or criminal records. Their existence is a joke. If they are doing anything useful for teams it probably involves going through players garbage or finding out which ones can be bought.

  6. [...] as long as they open their wallet — is far from the only reason for the NCAA’s move.  Another likely factor in the decision is the relationships that sites have developed within the football programs. According to those [...]

  7. Glenn says:

    What about youtube? There are hundreds of videos of HS kids looking for scholarships with video that is just as accessable as Rivals or Scout.

  8. Bill says:

    A friend who just retired from Gannett points out their southern newspaper sites are very heavily into recruiting now. And they charge for their print versions, and sometimes for web.

    And how about the various newsletters and tip sheets in the basketball recruiting game? Those aren’t free. Are they banned too? If not… why not?

    This horse has left the barn. If the NCAA is concerned about particular behaviors, they should ban the behaviors, not selectively restrain trade and give Fox/Yahoo/ESPN solid grounds for an anti-trust suit.

  9. noel says:

    like this will somehow slow down the leashless, untouchable bluebloods the ncaa and their blueblood packed commitees just love to pander to… please, as w/ most things involving the ncaa, it’s nothing more than appearances in regards to this deal. usc, bama, uf, ut, nd and their ilk need have no worries.. and apparently not auburn either, whatw/ the cam newton pay for play debaucle… almost makes you wonder if the ncaa is trying to get a kickback from the old man to brush it all under the rug… that IS, after all, how they seem to roll… forget academics and clean programs!!! they’re much too overrated for the ncaa to bother with!!!

  10. John Smiley says:

    Just stumbled on this through http://www.fetchheadlines. The NCAA doing something nonsensical or possibly/probably illegal shouldn’t come as a shock at all. It’s their stock and trade.

  11. DMK says:

    In the meanwhile, Auburn’s record still stands at 14-0 and Ohio St.’s still stands at 12-1. Half of the FBS players are functionally illiterate and have no business being associated with a university of any sort. And Stephen Garcia was framed.

  12. [...] recruiting sites in the business of making these videos available to the general public? Source presnapread.com ——————– "…G-Funk,where rhythm is life,and life is rhythm…" RIP [...]

  13. Jeff says:

    This is the dumbest thing ive ever heard. Whats to stop a booster from subscribing and emailing the coach all the info he needs. Too many ways around it. BAD RULE

  14. John Diste says:

    So Rivals.com = street agents? Not buying it. The NCAA went digging for a few bones and hit a sewer line. Now they’re in damage control mode. They can put every school that uses any kind of recruiting service on probation, or declare a general amnesty and use this crap as an excuse to return recruiting to the 1950′s. For the Gipper.

  15. [...] Read more of “N.C.A.A. Cracks Down on Recruiting Sites” on PreSnapRead.com 4.11.11 [...]

  16. cal young says:

    How can the TV deals(ESPN) with a University(Texas) not be similar to “Recruiting Sites”? – and interchangeable to make the same argument that these sole University Network “deals” should be banned? If you substitute University Sports Promotion Network for Rivals.com, how can you not say the same argument that caused the ban on memberships with Rivals.com should apply to these single self promoting network relationships?

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