Recruiting rule broken at Illinois?

Recruiting analyst Tom Lemming mentioned yesterday that The Chicago Tribune had a column about whether Illinois had broken NCAA rules with its involvement in helping blue chip recruit Martez Wilson announce to the media that he is picking Illinois. I didn’t see the story on ChicagoTribune.com when I looked last night, but I found it there today.

The question is whether Illinois violated an NCAA bylaw that states, “Press conferences to announce a signing may be arranged independently by the prospective student-athlete (or the prospective student-athlete’s family), provided there is no arrangement or involvement whatsoever by the institution or representatives of its athletics interests.”

Illinois associate sports information director Cassie Arner contends that she did not break this bylaw by e-mailing to Wilson’s coach a list of media who cover Illini football, saying Illinois has been giving media lists to recruits for years.

The story came to light when the coach who represents Wilson sent out an e-mail media advisory for a press conference to announce Wilson’s decision. His e-mail to numerous media outlets contained Arner’s e-mail signature.

To read the Chicago Tribune column, click here

Having covered the stories of dozens of football and basketball recruits announcing they will play football or basketball at Indiana (or pick another school over Indiana), I don’t recall ever having received a media advisory from a player or one of his coaches. Typically, we have to call the coach or player to find out when and where an announcement will be made.

This situation with Cassie Arner at Illinois isn’t a big deal. If she broke a rule, it’s a minor violation. What’s interesting, I think, is that college assistant coaches who are recruiting particular players often can tell you the details of the plans for those players announcing their decisions. Are college coaches sometimes involved in offering suggestions on when and how to make an announcement? I suspect they are. And I suspect that recruits appreciate this guidance.

I think schools break many of the “smaller” recruiting rules on a routine basis. But who is to blame: just those breaking the rules or also those who devise a rule book that defies common sense? The 2006-07 NCAA manual that lists the rules that schools must follow is 476 pages long (here it is). That’s just too many rules.