Recruiting in this age of social networking is a slippery slope

Recruiting athletes via Twitter landed one coach in hot water.

As technology evolves, recruiting parameters have become blurrier. In the last five years, the NCAA’s microscope has tried to sharpen its focus on social media.

Of course, the NCAA didn’t need a microscope to see what happened Tuesday.

Oklahoma University (OU) assistant coach Jay Norvell’s Twitter feed was pouring out NCAA violations. They were all secondary in nature; that is, minor infractions not likely to bring any harsh penalties. But the tweets came with alarming frequency.

Six prospective student-athletes were contacted on their own Twitter feed by Norvell — or someone in control of Norvell’s account.

Norvell may have intended to send the six prospects a direct message, but instead the tweets went out to everyone who follows those prospects on Twitter and everyone who follows Norvell.

He sent public messages to six junior wide receivers: Ahmad Fullwood of Jacksonville, Fla., Uriah LeMay of Matthews, N.C., James Quick of Louisville, Ky., Demarcus Robinson of Fort Valley, Ga., Rashaad Samples of Dallas Skyline and Ricky Seals Jones of Sealy, Texas.

The messages read, “This is Coach Jay Norvell from Oklahoma. Cel (405) 431-xxxx Would like to offer you a Full Scholarship to Oklahoma. Call me!”

Those tweets were quickly deleted, but not before they were screen-captured and posted by college football blog SBNation.

Norvell apparently also tweeted the prospects other messages, inviting Jones to an upcoming junior day camp, offering Samples an opportunity to change his Twitter avatar from a picture in which he’s wearing a Texas jersey and putting up UT’s hook ’em horns hand sign and telling Robinson OU wants him because the Sooners have the best offense for a receiver in the country.

Coaches are allowed to tweet, but they’re not allowed to directly contact individual recruits via Twitter or other social media. They’re also not allowed to make public any correspondence to the prospects. And they’re not allowed to make written scholarship offers before Aug. 1 of a prospect’s senior year.

An OU representative said the school’s compliance department was looking into the matter, but no press release or statement or clarification was expected.

Messages left on Norvell’s phone were not returned, though it is likely he soon would be getting a new phone number.