"You do pay attention to things when you're recruiting because you're not only recruiting that student-athlete, but you're recruiting the whole package, parents included," said Tricia Cullop, Toledo women's head basketball coach. "So if a parent is out of control in the stands, that's one more thing that may lean me toward looking at another player."
Cullop has been a head coach at the collegiate level for the past 18 years, the last 10 at the helm of the Toledo Rockets Women's basketball team.
She says this behavior not only turns coaches away, but also some players as well.
"I just think it's so much better when they don't say a whole lot, other than if you can't say something positive, don't say anything," she said. "It's ok to maybe say, 'ugh', but when you're getting personal, you may make your son or daughter lose their love for playing. It may be too much. Sometimes a kid's not going to say how much pressure they're dealing with, but I think we can put unrealistic expectations on a young student-athlete that makes them lose their love for the game."
A reality that is frustrating as a coach.
"It's very frustrating because I can't control it," said Cullop. "That's why you almost feel like a detective at times in the recruiting process because you want to know, to the best of your ability, what you're bringing in. Because even that one person can make an impact on your program in a positive or negative way that can change the whole chemistry."
While Cullop understands the pressure that goes along with trying to earn a scholarship or having pro dreams, that still doesn't excuse unruly behavior in the stands to officials.
"I think all of us really need to think about, if you had a tape recorder on yourself, what do you sound like. If you listen to it back would you proud of what you said. Are you being productive," said Cullop. "I think we all need to do some self-reflection. Are we being something that would epitomize something positive to even an emulation of what our student-athletes should be like when they're going through an adverse situation. Are we showing them how you should act. Or, are we displaying behavior that could be quite embarrassing if you played it back. And I think that's your self-check. All of us need to do a little self-check when it comes to officiating."
During recruiting visits, Cullop has seen and heard first-hand the verbal abuse to officials.
"Sometimes we can be in the stands and I just don't want to be a part of what I hear is going on," said Cullop. "The pressure that they're putting on everybody. The pressure they're putting on the officials."
And it's this kind of behavior that could damage the culture and character of a program she's worked to build-up over the years to become a powerhouse in the MAC. So just as she's grown her team to be, she says she hopes to see that reflected in the stands.
"We teach our team to be supportive of each other. And you want the stands to be supportive as much as possible too," she said. "So I think the character stands out a lot there. Being able to handle adversity in a professional way and has a kid been taught that at home before they get to college is a big deal."
Just as the high school level has seen a decline in officials, so too has mid-major conferences like the MAC.
"I can't imagine how some of them feel every night because they've been called every name in the book by the end of the night," Cullop said. "The one thing I think as a head coach I have to keep in mind is I can't be like that. I want to see more people get into officiating. I think we've got to take it easier on them, especially at the youth level. But even at the college level because I'm seeing it tough for even our level for them to recruit up and coming people who we're going to enjoy for many years to come because of the treatment of them all season long."
Cullop adds that besides in-game behavior she also takes the student-athlete and their parents' social media into account when recruiting.