February 23, 2004
There's recruiting and then there's recruiting

Buried near the bottom of this rather pedestrian story about sex 'n' drugs 'n' stuff on the Bigtime College Athletics Recruiting Trail is a fairly sensible suggestion, made by UT Coach Mack Brown.

UT and A&M are in unusual positions in terms of recruiting because so many of their signees commit before their official visit, so the "selling" of the university has been done.

And with most of the players signing with the schools being from the state, the majority of them bring parents or guardians on their visits.

"You get better behavior from a guy when mama and daddy are in town with him," Brown said. "In fact, I wish the NCAA would look at (allowing schools to pay for) parents' visits. That would help when you bring in out-of-state kids."

Hard to argue with that. I think the NCAA would do well to at least consider the suggestion.

Way more interesting was this companion article about an enduring anachronism, the all-female "hostess" squads that meet up with recruits during their visits.

At most schools, the moment a high school recruit arrives on campus or at the local airport, he is welcomed by a hostess from the groups of all-female students. (Reportedly, these days a few campuses around the country have male members, but none are in Texas.)

At Texas A&M, they are known as Aggie Hostesses. Texas calls them the Texas Angels. Texas Tech's are the Raider Recruiters. Baylor has the Baylor Gold. Houston has the Cougar Cruiters. The Eagle Angels are at North Texas, and the Purple Hearts at TCU.

Legends in coaching like UT's Darrell Royal and UH's Bill Yeoman have said how valuable the Angels and Cruiters were to their programs in the 1960s and '70s.

Baylor's football media guide describes the Gold as "vital to the football program and the whole recruiting process." Tech's guide says the Raiders Recruiters are "the backbone of Texas Tech's recruiting efforts."

They are attractive, outgoing and at many schools, not necessarily representative of the makeup of the overall student body. UT's 2003 football media guide has photographs of 37 Texas Angels, with as many as 14 who appear to be black (37.8 percent), compared to the black student population of 3.2 percent in 2002.

These are not the average girls on campus -- any campus -- but the groups are adamant that they are not there to use their sexuality to entice high school recruits.

"They are outgoing, charming ladies," Dana Butterfield, a Colorado athletic department employee who oversees the Ambassadors program, told the Denver Post. "I think they have a flirtatious nature with anyone. I don't think they turn on the sexiness for recruits."

Organization leaders in Texas dismissed flirtation or anything like it as part of their duties.

"Using them as anything in that way is not what our organization is all about," said Lacey Glenewinkel, a member of the A&M football support staff and sponsor of the Aggie Hostesses. "They're here to meet with the recruits and so they have one more person on campus for the recruit to talk to and know.

"I don't feel like what has happened at Colorado reflects on our organization."


While the NCAA rules do not mention sexual relationships, most of the organizations have rules that call for dismissal of women who become involved with recruits.

"These are some exceptional young ladies who are there to help the families feel more comfortable," UT recruiting coordinator Michael Haywood said. "The mothers love 'em. They are able to answer questions that we can't answer because they live on campus and deal with college life every day.

"(Sex) is not even a thought. We have young ladies with great character that are pursuing careers and degrees. We haven't had any issues in that area. And I don't know any organization in the country that uses those young ladies for that purpose."

OK, I think we've all got the message there. There are just so many things I never knew about, coming from a Division III school.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on February 23, 2004 to Other sports | TrackBack

Hmph. I notice there's no talk about SMU, but then again, we old-timers already knew all the jokes about breaking in Mustangs from back in the late 80s ...

Posted by: Ginger on February 23, 2004 5:37 PM

While we're at it, why don't we get the NCAA to allow schools to pay moving expenses for the future players' families ("mama and daddy") to move to the town where university is, buy them houses to live in while junior plays football for dear ol' U, subsidize them jobs, all so mama and daddy can be closer to junior to help guarantee junior's better behavior? Tha would be a wise expenditure of University funds, while other sources of student aid are diminishing, and tuition is inexorably increasing for all other students. When will this nonsense end?


Posted by: charles on February 24, 2004 9:32 AM