Update: NCAA clarifies its stance on Instagram photos, offers amusing visual proof

UPDATE: Responding to criticism over its apparent ban on Instagram photos being sent to recruits, the NCAA altered the wording of the education column referenced in the article below and issued a statement late Thursday afternoon clarifying its position.

"There is no NCAA ban of Instagram," the statement read. "Schools just can't alter the content of photos — and to be clear, we do not consider Instagram's filters as content alteration — and then email them directly to recruits."

In case the statement wasn't proof enough of the NCAA's stance, an NCAA spokesman tweeted the amusing photo to the right. So there you have it, coaches. You can send recruits Sepia-toned photos to your heart's content.


Hoping to take another step toward eliminating cheating in college athletics, the NCAA has banned coaches from using something that apparently provides them too great a competitive edge.

Believe it or not, the NCAA has clarified coaches are prohibited from using Instagram to apply a digital filter to a photo before sending it to a prospective recruit. The Bylaw Blog's John Infante uncovered the proof in this education column published by the NCAA:

Question: May a coach take a photo and use software (e.g., Instagram, Photoshop, Camera Awesome, Camera+,) to enhance the content of the photo (e.g., changed color of photo to sepia tones or add content to the photograph), and send it to a prospective student-athlete as an attachment it to an email or direct social media message?

Answer: No, a photograph that has been altered or staged for a recruiting purpose cannot be sent to a prospective student-athlete.

The purpose of the rule is to prevent coaches from altering a photo to put a recruit in his team's uniform, which just by itself seems like an unnecessary rule. What's the harm in a coach handing a kid a picture book with photos doctored to show him sinking the winning basket or celebrating a championship in the jersey of his prospective school?

[Related: LeBron James' agent being investigated by NCAA]

Where the rule goes from silly to absurd, however, is when it includes Instagram among the banned software. What recruiting advantage could possibly be gained by a coach adding sepia tones or vintage effects to a photo he sends a recruit?

That the NCAA bothers to even worry about trivialities like this at a time when there are so many more serious problems facing college athletics is a sign that its priorities remain out of whack. Instead of ending our long national Instagram nightmare, maybe the NCAA could work on handing out more consistent penalties for programs guilty of major violations or bringing back a later early entry decision date for potential NBA draft prospects.

NCAA officials will often argue they receive too much criticism for what they do wrong and not enough credit for what they do right. Unfortunately with a phone book-esque rulebook chock full of inane rules like this, it's hard to see that changing anytime soon.

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