Let’s face it, recruiting is a tricky, inexact science. Even if you correctly identify the prospects who’ll thrive in your program and turn into All-Americans, there’s still the issue of getting them committed and on campus–and doing so within the draconian bylaws of the NCAA. When doing all this while competing against over 100 other Division I coaches (and their Type-A personalities), any edge, however small, can be crucial.
All that withstanding, though, any recruiting tactic that involves imitations of bribery and the direct involvement of the Secret Service might need to be reconsidered. And that’s where we find Dan Hawkins and the Colorado Buffaloes. Hawkins’ staff, for one glorious, marginally appropriate year, tried to lure recruits to campus by delivering–we are not making this up–boxes containing $333,000 of fake money.
Instead of sending envelopes with the school logo to prospects who receive dozens of similar pieces of mail each week, CU sent small, black cardboard boxes about the size of a standard pizza box.
Intrigued recruits opened the box to find it filled with a pile of hundreds of business cards designed to resemble $100 and $500 bills. A message inside the box told recruits the money totaled $333,000, equal to the value of an education at CU.
Surprisingly, this was technically legal to the NCAA, though you can bet that as soon as they heard about it, they were trying to figure out how to put a stop to it. According to Hawkins, all the credit for the implementation of the idea goes to the NCAA compliance department at CU, who went to highly unusual lengths to make sure they could do this and not, y’know, end up in federal PMITA prison for decades:
Each card had a CU coach’s face where the former president would normally be on currency. The cards featured contact information for coaches on one side and the core values of the program on the other. CU went through a lengthy approval process with the Secret Service for the project, but it was scrapped after other programs began asking questions about its legitimacy.
Emphasis ours. Colorado is quick to note that it was the Big XII who put a stop to the practice, though the NCAA now only allows one business card per staff member to be sent to a recruit. Whew. Now recruiting can be legitimate again.