Yesterday, spurred by Forces Unknown, Marquette Athletics sent out a link to this brochure, which esteemed legal counsel to Anonymous Eagle, Mrs. Q, was duty-bound to pass along. The brochure details the NCAA rules and regulations for University boosters, and, since I read everything anyone links to on the Internet, and since we endeavor to run this blog to the letter of the NCAA law, I read it cover to cover. Here's what I learned.
The first question to be addressed, of course, is: Am I a booster? Turns out, it's not as exclusive or prestigious a position as someone like T. Boone Pickens might lead you to believe. According to the brochure, you're considered a booster if:
You have ever made a donation to the University or to our athletics booster organization;
I made a six-figure donation to the University from 1999-2003 (actually, the Federal government made it on my behalf, but whatevs). So: check:
You are or have been a member of any organization or agency promoting Marquette University athletics;
Does a little-read blog that has more contributors than readers count? Better safe than sorry, so: check.
You have ever helped to arrange or have provided employment for an enrolled student-athlete;
Well, we DID let David Diggs drink for free at that one party where he ran the tap for five minutes. Too close to the line: check.
You have ever participated in varsity athletics or if you are an alumnus of Marquette;
Mrs. Q and I exchanged high fives with Big Rob Jackson when the students stormed the court after Marquette beat Cincinnati in '03 to clinch the conference title. (Hell, we walked around the court for a good fifteen minutes, which is longer than Trevor Mbakwe was out there. If he counts as a participant in varsity athletics, so do I.) Check.
You have ever been a season ticket holder in any sport;
I'm gonna run the gauntlet here! Wooo! Check!
You have otherwise promoted Marquette's athletics program in ANY manner.
"Promoted" might not be the best word for what I do around here, but: check.
Of course, the preceding was a non-exhaustive list of the things that might make you a booster. Here are some others:
- If you've ever been to Coach Buzz's preseason barbecue, you're a booster. In fact, if you've ever made barbecue (does not include Manwich, obviously), you're a booster. If you've ever eaten barbecue, you're probably a booster. If you've been to barbecue but didn't partake because you're a vegetarian, but you smelled the barbecue, you're still a booster. If you've never had barbecue but think it sounds pretty good, you're a booster, too. If you're going to have a hard time getting the word "barbecue" out of your head for the rest of the day because I've said it 15 times in the last paragraph, you're a booster. (Also: barbecue.)
- If you're related to Marquette guard Vander Blue, you might be a booster. If blue is your favorite color, you might be a booster. If you've seen the Blue Man Group, you might be a booster -- but note that if you like Blue Oyster Cult, you're definitely a booster, and you're also awesome.
- If you've seen Toy Story and Buzz Lightyear is your favorite character, you might be a booster. If you've seen a video of the lunar landing and watched Buzz Aldrin hop down the ladder to the surface of the moon, you're probably a booster. (In years past, if George Hamilton was your favorite actor, if your favorite snack food was Cheetos, if you'd ever drank a can of Diet Pepsi, or if you'd spent any appreciable amount of time in a tanning booth, you were probably a booster. Thankfully, this is no longer the case.)
OK, so: I'm a booster, and I'm guessing, if you're reading this, you are too. Congratulations, fat cat!
So: what does it all mean? Obviously, we can't be passing out pinky rings and Cadillacs like they're leftover Halloween candy, but you probably knew that already. The more important -- and less-publicized -- rules relate to seemingly-innocent contact with prospective student athletes -- the recruits.
Again, my boosting brothers and sisters, we can't go around Blue Chipping kids with fancy hats and tractors and ice cream buckets full of cash. But it's not the modern-day SMUs and Texas A$M's that present the biggest obstacle anymore; did you know that your ham-handed use of social media can jeopardize a recruit's eligibility, too? It's true!
From the august institution that brought you "it's OK if your sleazy pops tries to set up a pay-for-play scheme so long as you insist you knew nothing about it" comes ... the rules on contacting recruits with Facebook and Twitter! Because, clearly, this is an arena that's capable of being meaningfully and consistently regulated:
Fans may not initiate or accept "friend" requests of prospects on Facebook, but they can "follow" recruits on Twitter.
... because THAT's a distinction with a difference ...
Fans should NEVER post to a recruit's "wall," reply to a "tweet," send them any type of direct message, or take any other action that would constitute contacting that recruit.
Thus, you're apparently allowed to retweet a tweet by a recruit -- and, yes, I hate myself for knowing the difference between a reply and a retweet -- thought retweeting with a comment might still be verboten, since that's kind of a reply, in a sense, and if you retweet with an "LOL" prefacing the tweet, that's definitely a problem, because you're a worthless slug who has nothing substantive to add to the conversation. "LMAO," on the other hand, will probably be handled on a case by case basis.
Actually, let's make this simple: treat contact from a prospective recruit the same way you would treat a random 12 year old who you've never met making contact with you on the Internet: assume it's a cop, say nothing, run away run away RUN AWAY RUN AWAY ... and probably burn your computer for good measure.