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In NCAA hoops, a new cell plan

| Friday, June 15, 2012, 12:30 a.m.

The NCAA's decision to allow unlimited communication between men's basketball coaches and recruits could help reduce the number of athletes who transfer, Duquesne coach Jim Ferry said.

Starting today, coaches can text, call and send tweets and Facebook messages as often as they want to prospects who have completed their sophomore year of high school.

“You can call 30 days in a row if you want,” Ferry said. “In the past, you were allowed only two calls per week.”

The result could be stronger relationships between coaches and players, he said.

“It's going to allow us to have access to the kids more, and we'll be able to get to know each other better and gather more information,” Ferry said. “It will cut down on transfers. That's part of the plan.”

The new rule was adopted by the Division I Board of Directors in October after being recommended by its leadership council.

The change makes Shaler's Geno Thorpe thankful he has picked a college. Those who haven't committed can expect that “their phones will be blowing up,” said Thorpe, who spent three days this month at the Pangos All-American Camp in Long Beach, Calif. “They're going to keep getting calls and text messages. If your recruiting is going good, you'd better charge your phone all the time.”

But Thorpe, a rising senior, believed the rule change will benefit recruits like himself who already have verbally committed. Thorpe expects to text freely with Penn State coach Patrick Chambers.

The NCAA realized monitoring phone calls made by coaches and their staffs was difficult.

“If you can't legislate it, if you can't enforce it, then you probably ought to just go ahead and make it legal,” West Virginia coach Bob Huggins said. “I think that's kind of what happened with Prohibition.”

Pitt coach Jamie Dixon agreed.

“It just became too burdensome and costly to track the player calls and texts and emails,” he said. “That's probably what got it passed.”Ferry said it's also a concession to technology.

“It's just the way kids communicate,” he said. “Even my children, they don't speak on the phone. They text message all the time.”Robert Morris coach Andy Toole said texting shouldn't take the place of conversations, but it helps to get a relationship started.

“A lot of them communicate better through text,” he said. “Obviously you would like to have conversations with them and hear their voice, but this makes it more friendly and helps build relationships.”

Staff writer Chris Harlan and The Associated Press contributed. Jerry DiPaola is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at jdipaola@tribweb.com.

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