Tom Osborne, the interim athletic director at Nebraska, recently appointed himself interim head football coach of the ‘Huskers. Like Napoleon crowning himself Emperor of the French, Osborne crowned himself Emperor of Nebraska football.
The word from Harvard on the Plains was that Osborne would next place the Nebraska gubernatorial crown on his own head.
South Dakota National Guard troops were massing at the border. We were expecting trouble.
But, in fact, Osborne did temporarily appoint himself coach and for a very practical reason – recruiting. An athletic director may only meet with recruits on campus. But, a coach may visit recruits at their homes.
A lot of talk about recruiting in Rapid City lately – mostly negative. I think that’s a shame. I’m in favor of recruiting.
What prompts recent recruiting talk, recruiting allegations, and recruiting fears is the athletic success at St. Thomas More High School.
This seems odd to me. In the fall of 1975 I played football for O’Gorman High School (a Catholic high school in Sioux Falls, SD). Our team had a perfect record that season. Despite that, we didn’t hear allegations of recruiting. Not a word.
As a defensive tackle I played my part in that spotless record. I tackled everyone I could get my hands on. But, as I was 5’10 and 140 pounds, opposing linemen kept me from getting my hands on too many people.
Okay, I should clarify, our record was a perfect 0 – 8. It was unblemished by victory.
But, that’s the thing isn’t it? Until you win, no one pays any attention to how you put your team together. But, build a winning athletic program or three and the recruiting grumbling starts.
Steve Kueter, the A.D. at O’G, made the point in a comment to the Journal last spring. He said “From a private-school standpoint, if you’re not hearing about recruiting, then things probably aren’t going very well.”
So, as an STM fan, I take a goofy pride in the recruiting allegations. They are back-handed evidence of STM’s success.
STM’s students take the recruiting talk in stride. At a recent volleyball match STM kids traded good-natured cheers on the recruiting theme with opposing fans. When the match ended and St. Thomas More had prevailed, STM students chanted “Try recruiting!”
They’re right. Every school should try recruiting in the best sense of that term.
But, there’s a problem: “RECRUITMENT PROHIBITED”. That’s the title of Section 1. of Article IX of the South Dakota High School Activities Association Constitution And Bylaws. Not, “ILLEGAL INDUCEMENTS PROHIBITED”. Or “UNDUE INFLUENCE PROHIBITED”. But, “RECRUITMENT PROHIBITED”
It’s against the rules of the SDHSAA for a school to give or award scholarships, free tuition, free bus transportation, free school lunch, or any other inducements, directly or indirectly, to persuade a student to attend its school. Nor shall any other undue influence be exerted to persuade or inspire a prospective student to attend a particular school for athletic purposes.
An interesting side note here: Evidently it is permissible for undue influence to be exerted to persuade or inspire a prospective student to attend a particular school for artistic or academic purposes. You may put the hard sell on a kid to play trumpet, debate, or act; but not to play linebacker, shoot baskets, or run.
In any event, these rules do appear to permit an affirmative answer to the questions – “What can you tell me about your school? Should we send our kid there?”
If you ask me where to send your high school student I will try to recruit (except as that term is defined in Section 1. of Article IX of the South Dakota High School Activities Association Constitution And Bylaws) you to send that student to the high school my kids attend. I’ll try to do that because I think it’s a terrific school.
So, if someone goes to STM because they were recruited (except as that term is defined in Section 1. of Article IX of the South Dakota High School Activities Association Constitution And Bylaws) great!
Good schools deserve to be promoted through constructive recruiting. If we support that kind of recruiting, and support school programs, academic and athletic, worthy of that kind of recruiting, everyone benefits.
Beats 0 – 8.
(Originally published in the December 9th, 2007 Rapid City Journal)