Monday, April 30, 2007

Learn from Everyone

Last Friday, the UofA welcomed a new director for its oral history center. Being the history geek, of course I dropped by the reception. Former US senator David Pryor is the money and force behind the center, and he gave some brief comments.

What you might ask can a senator do to help sports information? He told the story of why he and his wife decided that Arkansas needed a center for oral history. They attended the opening of a colleagues' papers at a neighboring state's flagship university library. Impressed with what they saw, they began to wonder what could be done in Arkansas.

The kicker, however, was why they wanted to do it. Stop me if this sounds familiar, but Arkansas has a huge inferiority complex. Some of it deserved. But the Pryors realized that as long as outsiders were defining the state, it was always remain some haven for the Dogpatch-cum-trailer park mystique.

To paraphrase, it was at that point David Pryor realized that unless he did something to let Arkansans tell their story in their own words, who would? If he didn't give voice to the good things about Arkansas, how could we expect to change the state's image?

Smack between the eyes. So, if you're tired of what's being said about your school, your coach, yourself on the internet, until you are willing to tell your own story -- the good stories -- why are you thinking it will somehow get better on its own.

Go forth and tell your good stories.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

The New Athletic Department Job

Working through some technology contracts the past couple of weeks, it's becoming clear that the new job for athletic departments may be a CIO -- chief information officer -- just like some universities and almost every large company in the country. I base that on who incredibly stupid some companies think college athletic departments are, and the fact that they aren't too far from accurate.

We had a presentation by one company in which the rep hit Cntrl-F in the browser to search for a term within a web page. Two coaches in the presentation went, ooh, ah, hey we need this program. I've always wanted to be able to search like that.

Oh. My. God. It's called Firefox. And Internet Explorer. The coaches really thought it was a feature of the service being pitched.

It seems a lot of these companies are the one-eyed man in the land of the blind -- athletic types with just enough computer savvy to seem uber-geek and sell those services to the lazy or ignorant. Key word there often is lazy -- can you write this for me, can you post this for me, can you fix my bookmarks.

Then again, maybe the real money is in consulting and training for athletic departments. Hmm.

Text is Dead; Long Live Evasion

The good news: the NCAA has approved the removal of text messaging from the recruiting process. Yes, this is how the next generation communicates, and on the surface the NCAA looks Luddite. Coaches (secretly) and athletes across America celebrate the decision. Why? Because too much of a good thing is bad, and texting was out of control.

There is a reason why recruits can only get one call a week, and only during certain times. In the past, overly aggressive coaches would call endlessly and at all times of the day and night. The idea was to show the athlete just how much they wanted him or her, and to prove their was more desire to have the athlete at the coach's school than others that didn't call as much.

Text had become the same thing, but worse. Text volume was in the 100s per day to some recruits. Many times, they were innocent "hi" and "good game", but some were deliberate attempts to circumvent the rules -- remember, one phone call a week but unlimited texts. There was nothing to say a coach couldn't text a recruit "call me" and get a second, third, fourth call per week because the coaches could accept unlimited calls.

You know something -- in most states they define that as stalking.

Have no fear, coaches who work the gray line. There's always SNW. Hey, NCAA, don't be shocked but your coaches are already on the friend lists of all the good athletes -- starting as early as the freshman year of high school. So now they can't text -- but they sure can go wall-to-wall on Facebook.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

The Feds are After the SNW

OK, this won't help on the college level, but get ready for schools and libraries involving minors to start wholesale shutdown of SNW access. The Deleting Online Predators Act passed the House of Representatives by a whopping 410-15. And who wouldn't vote to get rid of predators? Of course, the devil will be in the details of enforcement. Expect over-reaction because its much easier to ban whole domains to cover one's rear against federal charges. (Take one look at HIPPA's impact on athletic training rooms and you'll see how that works).

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Goodbye Text, Hello Facebook

NCAA management council voted to ban text messaging from the recruiting process. That's good if you're a recruit and a coach.

They wonder what's next, and pondered this thing called Facebook.

Oh yeah -- message for NCAA management: coaches are already there. They get on friend lists. They're going wall-to-wall on messages. On that, you're too late.

More VT notes later, but the prize winner so far to one of the networks who clued us all in on how these "social networking websites" were a key part of communication during and after the events.

Again, thanks for joining us on that one.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Long Time in Between

Hiring a coach and watching a coach be hired has keep the blog off-line the past weeks. However, let me interject a couple of points as work begins on a presentation paper on the events of the past month.

New maxim for internet strategy: When the or is worse than the truth, get the truth out in a hurry.

I say this in relation to some events in our sister department, but there was great shock at a press release detailing two positive tests with the men's basketball team regarding . OK, the initial reaction is to never, never draw attention to bad news, but in this case, the printed media reports and circulating ors and board/blog stories eluded to many more positives, positives for worse issues, academic issues, arrests and possible players on the take.

When the official word came down, the general reaction was, only two? That's not that different from other schools or the general student body. It leads to lots of posts begining, "back when I was in school . . . " that related how much worse things could be.

So, to put a halt to much worse stories and ors, get the word out when the issue isn't worse. That takes a lot more guts than it seems, and it seems like a foregone conclusion. To do this, you've got to be willing to admit there is a problem, admit that part of what was out there was true, but you also get the chance to set the record straight.

Kudos to my colleagues.