Snapchat makes its way into the recruiting world

Snapchat makes its way into the recruiting world

Imagine John Groce sending a recruit a selfie.

Or a photo of the ongoing renovation at State Farm Center.

With the message 'Go Illini!' or some variation of this.

And the recruit may see the photo for up to 10 seconds. Then never again.

Confused yet? Welcome to a potential new tool coaches can use with recruiting.

Snapchat, a smart-phone application that allows people with accounts to send pictures to one another, record videos and add text or drawings to said multimedia work, is available for college basketball coaches to use now in communicating with recruits who are high school juniors and seniors.

Beginning Aug. 1, a new NCAA rules goes into effect allowing most of the coaches at Illinois, excluding football, to use text messages — and therefore Snapchat messages — to recruits who are juniors and seniors in high school.

"This isn't exactly a rule change, but the NCAA recently issued an educational document clarifying some of the rules related to electronic recruiting correspondence via Facebook, Twitter, text message and email," said Ryan Squire, the compliance director in the Illinois athletic department. "This educational document explained that Snapchat can be treated the same as a text message for NCAA rules purposes. It was the first time we heard Snapchat mentioned in the context of NCAA rules."

Squire said no Illinois coaches have asked him about the new clarification that allows Snapchat — which has drawn some controversy for its use of sexting and cyberbullying among teenagers — to be treated the same as a text message.

"My feeling is that most of our coaches are not aware of it and are not using it in recruiting as of yet," he said. "I have to admit that I did not know what Snapchat was before the NCAA included it in its educational column. I am 40 years old and my kids are too young to have phones yet."

Squire said he can't think of reasons why using Snapchat would be more effective than text messaging.

"Why not just send a text message with a picture attached? But if it is a way that high school recruits are communicating, I am sure some coaches will adopt it to help in recruiting," Squire said. "On the other hand, I have talked with some of our coaches at Illinois who will not even text message with prospects because they feel it is unprofessional for adults to be communicating with kids on that level. I am sure those coaches would feel the same about something like Snapchat."

Squire said he doesn't believe if coaches use Snapchat that it would create any new monitoring challenges that his department doesn't already deal with.

"We already face the same types of monitoring challenges when it comes to Facebook and Twitter communication," he said. "We have systems available to us that monitor phone calls and text messages to recruits, but there is no way to monitor communication with recruits on many of these other web-based electronic platforms."

The biggest task, Squire said, in monitoring the Snapchat situation if it is used by Illinois coaches is letting the coaches know when they are allowed to use this form of communication and when not to.

"If we find a way to monitor it we will do so, but otherwise we will make sure our coaches are educated on the rules and then rely on their integrity," Squire said. "To a certain extent, competing coaches tend to police themselves in the recruiting process. If a coach breaks a recruiting rule intentionally or unintentionally, it usually gets back to other coaches recruiting that prospect, and that is when the compliance people sometimes have to get involved."

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