In the Jordan Diamond thread and many times before, I've seen a lot of misinformation about who exactly the NCAA considers a "booster" (officially known as a representative of athletics interest). Here are three important things to know about the NCAA definition:
- A season ticket holder is considered a booster.
- Anyone who contacts a recruit to encourage that person to attend a particular university instantly becomes a booster of that university.
- Once a person becomes a booster, they remain a booster forever.
The bottom line is that while fans (and I believe alumni) are not by definition considered to be boosters, they turn into a booster the moment they contact a recruit and act as a school's representative by trying to influence the recruit to attend that school.
The NCAA prohibits boosters from contacting recruits, and this includes all manner of electronic communication. A number of universities have posted very similar pages with details on what boosters are prohibited from doing online. The following is part of what appears on a page at the University of Cincinnati's website:
(2) Message Boards: Boosters participating on a message board are not permitted to write, call, instant message, text, chat with, or e-mail a prospect. Sometimes we will read on a message board that someone thinks it is okay to contact a prospect once they sign a National Letter of Intent with Cincinnati. However, that signing does not change the fact he or she is still a prospect and all prohibitions against booster contact continue to apply. We often also hear comments that because a person is not a graduate of Cincinnati or a season ticket holder, they believe they are not a booster and it is okay for them to contact a prospect. However, part of the NCAA's definition of a booster includes anyone who contacts a recruit on behalf of the institution. Therefore, as soon as someone on a message board e-mails or sends a message out to a recruit, they automatically become a booster and are subject to the NCAA rules prohibiting such contact.
(3) Social Networking: Boosters are not permitted to use social networking websites such as Facebook, Twitter, and MySpace to contact or otherwise attempt to correspond with prospects. This includes, but is not limited to, posting on a wall, using the inbox/e-mail feature, instant messaging, "@replies", "mentions", or direct messaging. Recently, NC State University sent a cease-and-desist letter to a student who had formed a Facebook group urging a prospect to come to the university. The university saw the group as a fan's attempt to recruit the prospect, thus violating NCAA rules.
Long story short (as a number of people said in Jordan Diamond thread): Don't contact any recruits using any method of communication.
Also worth reading: The NYT article Social media and the NCAA — A recruit's friend, a team's fan and a headache for colleges