The headline to this AP story from Murray Evans and Jeff Latzke seems like a textbook case of the NCAA overreacting to something that should not be a violation: “NCAA Nearly Suspended OU Assistant Over Tweets”. The story outlines how the NCAA proposed a one-game suspension for Oklahoma co-offensive coordinator Jay Norvell for sending nine Twitter messages to six high school juniors. The school successfully appealed the suspension, in part arguing that the impermissible tweets were inadvertent.
Even so, proposing a suspension seems harsh until this detail is added:
Six of the tweets contained what OU deemed to be “written offers of financial aid to juniors, which was prior to the permissible date in which an institution can provide written offers of aid to prospects.”
While Oklahoma again argued that the violation was unintentional, it was of a much clearer and more important bylaw. Knowing what constitutes a written offer is something a coach should pay attention to, and something the NCAA should take a greater interest in rather than whether he or she knows how Twitter works. The timing of scholarship offers and signing is worth controlling more than the tools coaches use to talk to recruits.
Combined, Norvell committed two violations for all six prospects, publicly offering them scholarships in writing before written offers were allowed. If coaching suspensions are going to be used, multiple violations of multiple bylaws would seem like an appropriate place to consider one.