Universities to students, fans: Don’t recruit athletes via social media

“When boosters violate NCAA rules, the university is accountable,” the video said. “Leave the recruiting to us.”

It isn’t just colleges and universities issuing the warnings against online boosterism. Hawkeyenation.com, a fan website that covers University of Iowa athletics, told its readers that social media contact with sought-after recruits could put the university in the NCAA’s crosshairs.

“Just another reminder to not seek out possible Iowa recruits via social media for the sake of sending them messages encouraging them to consider Iowa,” the site said. “Most people are not that ‘direct’, rather they’ll send messages or tweets about good things about a school, or a program, subtle things. It’s dangerous territory, and likely against the rules.”

Even after warnings were issued against the N.C. State Facebook group, other social media efforts were made to persuade Wall’s decision. Facebook pages from students at the University of North Carolina, Duke University, and Baylor University cropped up in the weeks before Wall decided to attend the University of Kentucky.

Higher education has struggled with staying within the NCAA’s proposed guidelines on how technology can be used in the pursuit of the country’s top athletes.

In April, less than a week after its women’s basketball team won the national championship, Baylor officials said the school was involved in a three-year investigation with the NCAA into what are believed to be hundreds of impermissible phone calls and text messages sent by coaches to young prospects.

The school did not describe any details of the investigation, including which sports were involved, but the announcement came a few hours after ESPN.com reported that coaches for both the men’s and women’s basketball programs had made more than 1,200 calls and text messages to prospects over a 29-month span dating to 2008.