IN THE OLD days, one used a thumb to hitch a ride. Now, college basketball coaches are using their thumbs to recruit.
Starting last Friday, men's basketball coaches were allowed to use the digits to send unlimited texts and make unlimited calls to recruits who have finished their sophomore year of high school. The NCAA also opened the door to sending private messages through social media sites like Facebook and Twitter.
In the past, coaches could call recruits once a month from June 15 after their sophomore years to July 31 after their junior years. Recruits, though, could call coaches whenever they wished.
Now, well, let the texts begin. And new WVU assistant basketball assistant coach Ron Everhart believes it's a move for the better.
"I was a head coach for years," Everhart said. "And in that time the transfer rate of kids has gone through the roof. Part of the reason is recruiting rules don't allow coaches to get to know kids.
"Now with this, coaches will get to know the kids. You can get to know whether they're good for your program and they can better decide whether your program is good for them."
Everhart said the 2012 transfer list is currently at an astounding 600, around two per school. Three months ago, that was at 445.
"That's a problem," Everhart said. "Also for us, it's a problem since retention and the [Academic Progress Rate] are so important."
WVU's basketball team knows all about transfers. Tommie McCune, for instance, has transferred out to Northern Illinois. Aaric Murray (La Salle) and Juwan Staten (Dayton) transferred in and are expected to be key Mountaineers next season.
"By relaxing the regulations," Everhart said, "you have a lot more familiarity."
There are concerns. Top recruits are going to get bombarded with texts, tweets and Facebook messages.
"Yes, they are," Everhart said. "But they're going to have to be strong and have a support system.
"This puts a little bit of the onus back on them. They'll have to be strong enough to say 'no' to some people and stand on their own feet. I think that's good."
The Mountaineer assistant said WVU "will do a lot" of recruiting through texts, tweets and Facebook, although opportunities are currently limited because of commitment numbers.