For months, they wouldn't make a move without that little orange and brown pamplet, the one listing the do's and don'ts for recruiting female high school athletes for college.
"We kept those little books with us all the time to make sure everything was going according to the rules," said Rose Marie Battaglia, the basketball coach at Paramus (N.J.) Girls Catholic High.
A physical education teacher at a nearby junior college, Battaglia found her world turned topsy-turvy this past year as she became the most sought after girls' high school basketball coach in the country.
The reason: Anne Donovan, the 6-foot-8, 165-pound center for Paramus, who was to girls basketball what Ralph Sampson was to boys basketball.
Donovan, who will enter Old Dominion University this fall, was recruited by more than 200 colleges, and each time a college was eliminated, it drew media fanfare of the type usually accorded male recruits.
"We kept a running list of schools, but it got to the point (200) where we stopped counting and didn't bother anymore," Donovan said. "If I was absolutely positive I wasn't going to go to a school I'd tell them."
The youngest of eight children, Donovan began playing basketball in grammar school. "Actually, I don't even remember picking up a basketball for the first time," she said, "It just came naturally."
It apparently comes very naturally to the family. Her 6-3 sister, Mary, is on full athletic scholarship at Penn State, as is her 6-5 sister, Patrice, at the University of Nebraska.
Anne's recruitment began in her sophomore year with a "few nibbles" and picked up in junior year-- recruiting that was illegal under the rules of the Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women, the governing body for women's college sports.
A high school athlete cannot be recruited until completion of the junior year. So Coach Battaglia, anticipating what Donovan said was a "bombardment" from colleges in her senior year, promptly sent away for the AIAW recruiting pamphlets to guide them.
Signing Anne would be a coup for a college. Her high school freshman year was not spectacular, but she scored 422 points as a sophomore. As a junior, she contributed 1,015 points for a 35-point average and, in her senior year, contributed 1,083 or 37 a game-- the most points for a boy or girl in Bergen County.
"At least 90 percent of the (college) coaches called me first and asked if they could talk to Anne," said Battaglia, who estimates she spent four to five hours on the telephone daily during the heavy recruiting season.
"I had to tell some of the smaller colleges that they'd be wasting their time since Anne was interested in a big-time school," she said.
One of the reasons Battaglia found herself more involved in the recruitment process than a male counterpart might is the AIAW rule that bars coaches from off-campus contacts with prospective recruits and their families.
(A coach may, however, telephone the recruit and family at home.)
"I felt sorry for all the coaches who came to see her-- and that includes some coaches from the West Coast-- because they never got a chance to talk to her," Battaglia said.
"Everything was done in a very professional manner. Not one person has ever offered us anything illegal."
Reconsidering that statement later, Battaglia remarked, "I wasn't going to tattle, but I want to give some insight on what it was like (during the recruiting) . . .
"A male, former professional athlete said he'd like (Donovan) to visit his undergraduate school and he had a (airplane) ticket for her. We had to tell him that was illegal and we had to tell the coach (at his undergraduate school) to tell him to stop."
The AIAW will not allow transportation costs to be picked up by a college or a representative of the college's athletic interests.
By December, the pace lightened as Donovan narrowed the field to eight colleges. By April, the number had dwindled to four-- Kentucky, Colorado, Rutgers and Old Dominion.
But the media hype accelerated. "Weekend," the now-defunct NBC-TV "news magazine," accompanied Donovan on her visit to Colorado.
At another point, Battaglia said, "The papers had her signed, sealed and delivered at Rutgers." The rumors flew until, finally, Donovan called a heavily attended Saturday morning press conference in mid-May to announce her decision.
In a telephone interview recently, Donovan, who will turn 18 this month, explained her choice of ODU, which is under AIAW investigation for an alleged recruiting violation not related to Donovan.
"The coaching staff was very good and I like the climate they have, and the distance from school (is not very far)," Donovan said. "And working with a big girl (6-5 Inge Nissen) was an advantage.
"And the AIAW championship was a big factor," she said, referring to ODU's national victory last year and its current ranking as No. 1 in women's college basketball. "I figured it couldn't miss. It's going to be a strong contender next year."
Asked if academic offerings affected her decision, Donovan replied, "Academics was never a big thing in my decision-making.Athletics was the major concern."
Her ultimate goal, Donovan said, is to make the 1980 womens's Olympic basketball team. "If I don't go in '80, I'll shoot for '84. After that, I don't know . . . "