Santa Clara coach Kerry Keating challenging all college coaches not to text and drive

By Janie Mccauley, AP
Friday, June 25, 2010

Keating calls on coaches not to text and drive

SANTA CLARA, Calif. — Santa Clara’s Kerry Keating is challenging all college basketball coaches not to text and drive.

The Broncos’ fourth-year coach is asking coaches around the country to call his office with an oral commitment — not much unlike those they get from athletes — before the summer recruiting period begins July 6 that they won’t text and drive this summer. And, he hopes, long after that.

Keating has more than 30 coaches signed up so far, including some entire staffs, from UCLA’s Ben Howland to Butler’s Brad Stevens to Jim Larranaga at George Mason and several from the West Coast Conference teams that face Santa Clara. Keating went public with his handsfree initiative last week — first getting the word out via Twitter.

“You’re basically just saying you’re doing the right thing. We’re not trying to change the world,” Keating said. “I’m sure it’s not going to stop everyone from doing it, but by creating the awareness … it’s so prevalent to all of us we thought it would be great to bring it up.

“It’s fitting for us because we’re in the heart of Silicon Valley, where technology starts and ends. This is something we can do to be socially responsible and kind of take the lead for guys to be safer.”

Keating has texted while driving before, along with countless others — though it is illegal in California and several other states. Texting has become one of the standard forms of communication for college coaches with their local colleagues or coaches at other schools, and it often goes from the gym to the car once a practice or workout is over. So, Keating has an answer for that, too.

Jawbone, manufacturer of a Bluetooth headset, is offering college coaches and their staffs $30 off the headset along with free standard shipping to go handsfree and still be able to text while driving.

Keating has a new son, Jaxon, born April 8, and he and wife Treena have heard of numerous cases of deaths caused by texting drivers — one in particular that has gained national attention thanks in part to Oprah Winfrey’s efforts. In November 2008, 9-year-old Erica Forney was killed in Fort Collins, Colo., while riding a bike after an SUV drifted into the bike lane. Police believe the driver was talking on a cell phone.

“It kind of just came about in the past month or so,” Keating said of his idea. “It’s coincidence Jaxon was born. We’re all on the phone so much. Of course it’s illegal to dial or text in California but not everywhere. We wanted to start grass-roots getting the word out.”

Keating’s message in short: the call or text can wait to be answered. On July 5, he plans to release his list of participating coaches. There’s no obligation to purchase the headset, though the promotion will go through the end of July.

The summer months for college coaches are typically spent shuttling from games and tournaments to scout and recruit potential players.

“It’s about understanding that it’s not that important for the 5 to 15 minutes that you’re in the car to take your hands off the wheel to get a text message through,” he said. “It’s the way of communication right now, you’re hustling out of the gym and getting in your car to get to the next game and you carry your text into the car.”

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