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Q&A with Iowa men's basketball assistant coach Andrew Francis

BY TOM GOLDHAMMER | JUNE 29, 2012 6:30 AM

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The NCAA Division I Board of Directors put changes into effect on June 15 that immediately changed the recruiting landscape in men's college basketball. Basketball coaches have been given the ability to contact high-school prospects set to enter their junior year by means of unlimited text messages and phone calls. The NCAA has also granted permission for coaches to contact recruits through various social networks such as Facebook and Twitter.

Andrew Francis is an assistant coach under Iowa head coach Fran McCaffrey.

Daily Iowan: Can you first talk about the way recruiting has changed since your days of playing basketball in the early '90s? Just give me a feel for the landscape as a whole now that technology is playing such a huge role throughout sporting media.

Andrew Francis: Well, for me, my day was a long time ago [1992]. That's a night and day change, but it's more within the last 10 years, not 20, that the big change happened. The popularity of social networking and the popularity of forcing opinions out there grew. It could be bad for them [recruits] to really take in all the attention, whereas before, you couldn't quite take it in. Basically, it's to the point that these athletes have fan bases. A lot of guys love that … obviously, it's flattering and exciting. As long as guys have good mentors around them and are staying humble, I think it can be a good thing.

DI: Was this rule change anticipated by your staff or had there been lobbying from people involved with the program regarding these pending changes?

Francis: When changes come with the NCAA, it doesn't happen overnight. There's been talk of it happening for a little while now. They give you enough time to prepare for changes to be made.

DI: Is there any fear that this simply allows powerhouse programs to remain that way? Or would you say that this accomplishes exactly what the NCAA intends it to by letting any school communicate with any recruit as it pleases?

Francis: That doesn't really matter. Everyone had access to communication with recruits at an early stage. It doesn't necessarily change recruiting for coaches. The only difference is, we couldn't initiate the call. The big change is that you can now reach out to guys and reach out to parents, and you're still playing within the rules. One of the tough parts is going be when a young guy gets so many calls that it drives him crazy.

DI: Has the day come that it is essential for a recruiter to be connected through various social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, etc.?

Francis: I think you have to take full advantage of every recruiting opportunity that you can. I think you'd be doing yourself a disservice if you're not utilizing social networking in this whole process. It's part of your duties you have to make sure you're doing what's necessary to continue to develop that relationship between coach, player, and family. One of the most important parts of recruiting is talking to and developing a relationship between coach and family.

DI: The NCAA stresses the importance of keeping contact between recruit and recruiter private. Do you foresee problems regarding that issue with the new outlets that programs have at their disposal?

Francis: Honestly, I don't think so. Again, these rules have been in place so there's no major change. The major change is unlimited calls and texts. I think your recruiting ideal — the concept that you take with targeting recruits — isn't going to change. It's still a matter of looking at student-athletes who you feel are going to fit the culture and style of play with your basketball family.

[It's about] using your digression and using some common sense. The ideal [the NCAA is reaching for] is to level the playing field … In some way, the lesser programs feel that they have a shot like some of the elite programs. As a coach you have to do your job, though. Anything that you do in life, you have to have a level of realism to the expectations. As you march forward, you decide what level of student-athlete you're going to recruit. If we have a chance to get a young man who's that talented, there's no way we're going to turn our backs on him. But our goal is not going to be to chase a bunch of one and dones.


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