Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

When Coaches See Women as Recruiting Tools

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

When Coaches See Women as Recruiting Tools

Article excerpt

In yet another sign that college sports recruiting has gotten out of hand, University of Michigan tight- ends coach Jay Harbaugh sent a hand-written note to a four-star prospect's girlfriend. Pick your adjective: inappropriate; unprofessional; desperate; creepy. Unfortunately, it's also par for the course.

For decades, college athletic programs have used women as part of their recruiting strategy to convince prospects to commit to their schools. In 2008, University of Florida head football coach Urban Meyer convinced a junior college player to transfer to the Gators after several phone calls with the player's girlfriend. Meyer helped secure the girlfriend a gymnastics scholarship at Florida, which seemed to violate both decency and an NCAA rule prohibiting coaches from recruiting for sports other than their own. Meyer was cleared of any violations by the university.

In 2012, the mother of five-star recruit Landon Collins, who committed to the University of Alabama, accused Crimson Tide head coach Nick Saban of essentially bribing her son with a job offer for his girlfriend. While this would be a violation in college basketball, the bylaw prohibiting it oddly doesn't apply to football. The university refused to comment on the allegations. Collins's girlfriend then became the target of Twitter harassment from angry LSU fans who believed he chose Alabama because of her.

Perhaps the most insidious use of female enticement is the use of "hostesses" to show prospects around campus. Often these women's duties go far beyond answering questions about the dining halls. Several former hostesses have said it was understood they were to do whatever it took to convince the recruit the school was right for him. Several have later said they were raped.

The role of sex in recruiting isn't a secret. In 2013, former Oklahoma State defensive back Chris Wright told Sports Illustrated that an assistant coach told him, "You didn't do your job" after learning that a recruit Wright was hosting hadn't had sex the night before. …

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