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NCAA steps in to limit correspondence

By GREG AUMAN

© St. Petersburg Times, published June 16, 2000


You can almost hear the computer as the coveted high school point guard signs on: You've got scholarship offers.

The Internet is playing a big enough role in college recruiting that the NCAA passed legislation in April to restrict "instantaneous" communication, such as pre-arranged chats and instant messaging, between coaches and recruits.

As the NCAA sees it, those live conversations should be treated like telephone calls, much the same way that e-mail could be compared to regular mail. Beginning Aug. 1, coaches will be limited as to when and how often they engage in such online conversations with recruits.

"I can choose to ignore an e-mail, but instant messaging is an entirely different thing," said NCAA spokeswoman Jane Jankowski. "It's an intrusion into your privacy, and that is what the legislation is addressing."

And in a rare occurrence, coaches are applauding the NCAA for its wisdom and foresight.

"I think this is one of the few times when the NCAA is being pro-active in dealing with a new issue," South Florida basketball coach Seth Greenberg said. "The explosion of the Internet has changed the way everybody does business, and it's good that they're on top of it."

Greenberg said USF hasn't used the Internet much in its recruiting, but recently updated its questionnaire for prospective signees to include a line for an e-mail address. He hopes to outfit his assistant coaches with laptop computers soon so they can use the Internet while recruiting on the road.

"It's a great thing in that it keeps you really current," Greenberg said. "You can pull down so many newspapers and read stories from around the country."

Greenberg said new Memphis coach John Calipari was working on launching his own site (coachcal.com) and would like to have a similar presence online. For anyone looking, sethgreenberg.com is already registered by a Los Angeles business, but coachseth.com is available.

CHATWATCH: "He is definitely an intense competitor and a fiery person. But he is a genuine, committed Christian and a very passionate man. A totally different side of him. I enjoyed working with him immensely." -- former Florida quarterback Danny Wuerffel, now with NFL Europe's Rhein Fire, on former Saints coach Mike Ditka, during a chat on NFLEurope.com last week.. . .

"If baseball chooses to drop a team to facilitate realignment, which team should it be?" asks a poll on foxsports.com/business this week. The Devil Rays were among five teams listed as options, and while only 154 votes had been tallied Thursday, the Rays ranked second, with 33.9 percent, just 2 percent behind the Expos.. . Former Tampa Bay Rowdies and Mutiny star Roy Wegerle will chat on ESPN.com at 3 p.m. today to promote ESPN2's MLS Extra Time soccer highlight show, which debuts Monday night with the former USF All-American as co-host.

THE BOOKMARK: Perhaps 30 hours of TV coverage of this weekend's U.S. Open isn't enough -- online leaderboards told of Hal Sutton's opening eagle Thursday morning, four hours before the TV broadcasts began. Here are a few Open sites worth a look:

usopen.quokka.com: Quokka, which will handle NBC's online Olympics coverage this fall, has a real-time leaderboard, plus live pictures and commentary in its GolfViewer feature, as well as a tribute to Payne Stewart.

usopen.com: The tournament's official site, run by Lycos, has great video options for the more patient online visitor. It's a slow download, but there are video "fly-overs" and 2-minute tips from PGA pros for each hole. For those with slower connections, there are text-only features like daily interview transcripts.

pebblebeach.com: The course's site offers Pebble Beach sportswear (the Bobby Jones Houndstooth Jacquard Shirt, just $135), but the best draw here is a chance to win a three-night stay at The Lodge at Pebble Beach, with two rounds of golf tossed in. Maybe those tips will come in handy after all.

-- If you have a question or comment about the Internet, or a site you'd like to recommend, send an e-mail to staff writer Greg Auman at aumanac1@aol.com.

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