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Copyright 2014 The Commercial Appeal, Inc.
The Commercial Appeal (Memphis, TN)
John Martin Special to The Commercial Appeal

The University of Memphis had an athletic department meeting this week discussing several issues, one of them being Snapchat.

So what is Snapchat?

"I heard somebody talking about it once," Memphis basketball coach Josh Pastner said. "I don't even know what it is."

Welcome to the ever-changing world of college basketball recruiting, where as soon as you master one technology, another is upon you.

Snapchat is a mobile picture and video messaging application that allows users to send photos or short videos to each other from their smartphones. The catch is that the sender dictates how long the recipient gets to view the picture - anywhere from one to 10 seconds.

Due to the application's popularity - a recent study by the marketing agency Sumpto showed that 77 percent of polled college students use it at least once a day - the NCAA this month admitted Snapchat into its permissible forms of communication between basketball coaches and prospective student-athletes. It will not monitor the content of the sent messages and coaches are allowed to send as many as they choose.

The trick, then, for the Memphis staff and others is to figure out how to deploy the new technology to woo prospects to campus. U of M associate athletic director for compliance Jason Gray, who led the discussion at Tuesday's meeting, has some ideas.

"You could do a Snapchat video of the staff singing happy birthday to a recruit," Gray said. "Send that to him. You could do a quick (mock) player introduction for games; just a quick little one where you're announcing a kid's name into the starting lineup."

Gray said the coaches at Tuesday's meeting initially questioned its use, mostly due to lack of understanding. By the end, he said, creative ideas were flowing.

Not everyone, however, is thrilled with the steady integration of social media into recruiting. Louisville coach Rick Pitino said last week social media can be "poison" for student-athletes.

"I think technology is a great thing in many instances, and I think it's poison in others, and for people in sports especially," Pitino said during an appearance on ESPN Radio's "Mike and Mike."

Kentucky coach John Calipari fired back on a national radio appearance of his own, saying, "No disrespect, but coaches who hate social media know nothing about social media."

U of M assistant coach Aki Collins has not yet downloaded Snapchat on his cellphone. He said he figures the application will become more prevalent with the younger classes, like 2017 and beyond.

Collins said he sees how Snapchat can be beneficial in the recruiting process, especially if the particular prospect uses it frequently. The key, just like with text messaging and phone calls, is knowing when to use it.

"If I'm a 16- or 17-year-old kid, do I want a coach sending videos of himself all the time?" Collins said. "No. So it's just a matter of discretion."


March 3, 2014




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