Iowa State has recommended to the Division I Committee on Infractions that it be placed on probation for two years for phone call violations committed from 2008 to 2011. An extensive audit revealed a smattering of impermissible phone calls and one bigger issue:
Iowa State said that out of approximately 750,000 total calls made by coaches during a three-year period, 55 impermissible phone calls were made by non-coaching staff members and 24 phone calls were made by coaching staff members at impermissible times.
The release also stated that Iowa State discovered that many coaches did not properly document 1,405 calls in which they attempted — but failed — to reach a recruit. Failing to document those calls — even dropped calls and calls that result in voice messages — is an NCAA violation.
Calls where you do not reach a recruit, which could be a voicemail or someone else picking up the phone, do not count against the numerical limits on phone calls. For a long time, the rule of thumb was that calls lasting 2 minutes or less did not count. The rule now is that length is irrelevant. Whether recruiting conversation occurs is the key fact. A recruiting pitch in a voicemail is considered a countable call. “Hey this is Coach Smith, call me back” is not.
Dropped calls are also not treated as separate calls so long as the coach calls the prospect back as soon as possible. The classic case is a coach calling recruits while driving and the signal is lost. Once the coach has enough bars again, he has to call the prospect back. If he waits, it would count as a separate call.
The NCAA requires that voicemails, failures to reach the recruit, and dropped calls be supported with “contemporaneous documentation.” That means that in the moment or shortly thereafter, the coach must record why the call should not count. Coming up with a justification after compliance audits the phone bill and finds too many calls is not permitted.
Iowa State found just 79 impermissible phone calls across all of its sports during a three-year period that included three quarters of a million phone calls. But there was also a significant monitoring issue that occurred during the same period that could have lead to more violations. For that reason, tagging this violation as “major” seems more appropriate, assuming that any violation for phone call limits makes sense.