There are three things I don’t want to hear from my daughter when she goes away to college:
The last one may seem odd if you don’t follow college football or haven’t heard the latest news about possible University of Tennessee recruiting violations involving “hostesses.”
The NCAA is investigating whether the University of Tennessee violated recruiting rules when two of the school’s “recruiting hostesses” showed up at a high school game more than 200 miles from the university. The young women showed up dressed cute with signs for these high school players. They claim they didn’t meet with the students, but photos have popped up of the girls posing with the players.
But the accusations go further than just meeting with players off campus.
From The New York Times story about the University of Tennessee investigation:
“Also on Friday, Keith Easterwood, a veteran summer basketball coach, said that on a visit last year with his son, a football recruit, he had to ask a hostess to stop brushing her breasts against both him and his son.”
“He recalled saying, ‘Young lady, if you don’t stop doing that, we’ve got a problem.’
“Easterwood said that he took a group of basketball players to a Western Kentucky football game at Tennessee this year, and that the presence of the hostesses had his players ‘literally reduced to blubbering idiots.’ ”
“ ‘I’ve been up there five times, four for football and one basketball visit,’ Easterwood said. ‘My observation is that this is a very organized operation. These girls have obviously been groomed. There’s a lot of eye contact and touching.’ ”
Another story pulled quotes and photos from a UT hostess’s My Space page. From Deadspin, a sports Web site:
“One is Lacey Pearl Earps, whose name is well known on SEC message boards. (That’s her above, with current UT freshman Bryce Brown.) According to her MySpace page, she is a student at University of Tennessee and she “recruits champions.” There are numerous photos of her hugging what appear to be Tennessee football players and/or recruits. (The pictures are small, but clearly taken on a football field.)”
Depending on who you ask, the ‘hostesses” are either top-notch ambassadors of the university, or according to many critics, young women who use their looks to seduce 17-year-old boys into picking a college.
In this AP story from 2003, members of the Georgia Girls (as it used to be called at UGA) make the program sound like Rhodes Scholars who just happen to take athletes for tours around the campus. UGA added several men as hosts several years ago to help change the impression of the group and the women started wearing active wear instead of tight black dresses for tours.
This Web site offered a quite different view of hostess programs in general. From a brief history by Deadspin:
“There are also two essential facts that every hostess group shares. One, is that they are almost universally female-only. The groups were all given cutesy names like the Texas Angels, the Hurricane Honeys, the Bengal Babes, the Stately Ladies, the Black-Eyed Susans, the Tigerettes, the Crimson Courters (Bear’s Angels eventually became the ‘Bama Belles) and recruit heavily from the school’s sororities. (Those ladies are very big into public relations!)”
“And the second truth is that if they work for another school besides the one you attend, then they are all wh****. (Your girls, on the other hand, are wonderful, fresh-faced ambassadors for goodness and chastity.) No one is ever told to have sex with a recruit or get him drunk or promise him that ménage à trois is basically a freshman seminar, but when a bunch of attractive horny college-age kids get together with a pony keg, nature will run its course. It doesn’t take much for a recruit to fall in love with his host and, by extension, her school.”
Whether accurate or not, the perception is that these young women are being used to tempt high school athletes. I’m completely grossed out by the idea of this father and his young son having a hostess flirt with them suggestively when they are supposed to be on a college tour. Even if most of the hostesses follow the rules and don’t do anything unseemly, who wants to be associated with the perception that these programs simply provide eye candy for young male athletes?
So what do you think: Would you let your daughter be a “recruitment hostess?” Would you be concerned about what she was being asked or not asked to do? Should these programs remain intact? How can hostess programs be changed to put to rest the perception of trying to seduce players into coming to a school?