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Originally published September 24, 2010 at 12:00a.m., updated September 24, 2010 at 08:56a.m.

Jayhawks adjusting to Gill’s phone policy

Kansas University football coach Turner Gill, right, addresses his team following the spring game on April 24 at Memorial Stadium. Gill has implemented a cell-phone policy on the team, as cell phones are collected on the day before a game and returned to the players after the game to limit distractions.

Kansas University football coach Turner Gill, right, addresses his team following the spring game on April 24 at Memorial Stadium. Gill has implemented a cell-phone policy on the team, as cell phones are collected on the day before a game and returned to the players after the game to limit distractions.

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On the night before his team’s first game, Deshaun Sands saw his phone charger in his hotel room and instinctively plugged it in.

There was one problem: The Kansas running back’s phone wasn’t with him.

“I was like, ‘Man, this is tough,’” Sands said. “I didn’t know what to do in the room. I looked at the TV, but I was like, ‘Man, I’m tired of looking at the TV. I need my phone.’”

Sands said he is starting to become accustomed to one of KU coach Turner Gill’s new policies: no cell phones before gameday.

The players first learned of the procedure a few months ago when Gill handed out players’ manuals.

“I think everybody was just like, ‘I don’t know if I’m going to be able to make it without my cell phone,’” KU receiver Daymond Patterson said. “I think everybody was just kind of in shock, because we hadn’t had anything like that here in the past years.”

Though many players were surprised, KU receiver Bradley McDougald said a few of the seniors stepped forward and told their teammates that they needed to buy into Gill’s beliefs if they wanted to be successful.

“Some guys, of course, like to talk to their parents and family members before the games,” McDougald said, “but it’s just a small price you have to pay.”

The policy works like this: KU players turn in their cell phones to the coaches the day before each game. The phones are given back after the games, many times returned to each player’s locker.

In case of emergency, family members can still contact director of football operations George Matsakis, who will then get in touch with the players.

The goal is to cut down on distractions.

“Their job is to get ready to play a football game, not (do) things on the phone,” Gill said during his Hawk Talk radio show Thursday night.

Punter Alonso Rojas — who also followed a similar order his freshman year at Bowling Green — said he’s been able to avoid late-night texts, calls and requests for last-minute tickets.

“There are always going to be guys who don’t like it more than others,” Rojas said, “but we’re a team and our coach expects us to do something, so we’re going to do it.”

KU defensive end Jake Laptad has noticed on the night before games, teammates have spent more time talking to each other and hanging out in each other’s rooms.

Some Jayhawks still have been able to find ways to work around the policy.

Laptop computers are not banned, so McDougald said he uses applications like Skype, Facebook chat and Twitter to keep in touch with others.

McDougald said he believed part of the cell-phone ban was put in place to avoid distractions in the locker room, as players have the ability to play games or access sites like Twitter on their cell phones.

The cell-phone rule wasn’t the only major change introduced before the season.

Also in the players’ manual is a rule that states that KU’s players cannot be with girls past 10 p.m. on any night. McDougald said that meant either having a girl over or being at her house.

Though Gill told the players that the rule was difficult to enforce, he explained the penalty would be more severe if a KU player was involved with an incident and it was discovered that the player had broken the policy.

“Coaches are like parents, though,” McDougald said. “They’re our parents away from home, because if anything happens to us, and my parents come ask coach Gill what happened to me, he’s going to be responsible.”

Though the new cell-phone policy’s purpose is to help the team focus, there might be some risk it could harm KU in the future.

Upon learning KU’s new cell-phone rule, the website Footballscoop.com — a site used by numerous college coaches, especially for job information — posted the following:

“We’ll think this opens up Coach Gill to a lot of criticism and could impact recruiting.”

Scott Roussel, president of Footballscoop.com, said that seven college coaches helped provide the content for the site, and they had agreed that the new policy could be used against Gill in recruiting battles.

After posting the story earlier this week to his website — which receives between 50,000 and 100,000 visitors per day during its peak season — Roussel said three other college coaches had contacted him to support Gill and his decision to have a cell-phone policy.

Though Sands believes Gill is smart to have the rule, the freshman admits it’s been an adjustment.

“Usually when you drop your phone, it’s like you drop your heart,” Sands said with a grin. “You don’t want it to break or anything like that. It’s precious to you. A phone is a powerful thing.”

The rule also put the running back in the doghouse earlier this year.

The night before one of KU’s games, Sands realized that he hadn’t called or texted his girlfriend back at home in Florida.

Sands was in trouble the next day and faced lots of questions: “What happened?” “Where were you?”

Though it sounded a little bit like saying that the dog had eaten his homework, Sands told his significant other the truth: that his coach had taken his phone.

Luckily, the new rule didn’t end up costing Sands his relationship.

“She bought it,” Sands said. “She was really understanding.”

Comments

gongs4ku 3 years, 6 months ago

No cell phones: great idea.

No women after 10: what the heck, that's cruel and unusual. It's college, man! Do I have to spell out what men are supposed to do in college?

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BrutusHawk 3 years, 6 months ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

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Mo Mosallaei 3 years, 6 months ago

Why does the article start by saying Deshaun Sands was in a hotel room the night before his first game? The first game was at home.

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mulaza 3 years, 6 months ago

if we think this is stupid just imagine what 18-21 year old kids think. first of all, now a days cells phones are laptops, music & movie players, video games, and the one i could not live without apps, especially kusports gameday app! as for the no chicks after 10! 10! 10! i've been out of school for a litter over 10 years now and at 10 you had not even left your place to go out. Good lord! Gill is tougher that the RA working the door at GSP.

you know who is really not happy gill is the ku coach. his daughter! think of all the rules she must have to follow.

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Rick Arnoldy 3 years, 6 months ago

big whoop about cell phones. no girls after 10? are you serious. when did this become kansas baptist college? a movie or a doughnut run puts you against team rules.

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Mark Wooden 3 years, 6 months ago

Sounds like a good time to study the playbook, or even better your schoolwork.

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Michael Leiker 3 years, 6 months ago

Seems like the article should have been about no girls after 10pm. Much bigger deal than the cell phone rule and seems to be directly related to Gill's religious beliefs. Anybody smell a future lawsuit related to enforcing religious beliefs at public institution? Always some lawyers on the site. Is there a possibility of a case there?

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kugoal 3 years, 6 months ago

I think this is a good start to a lot of things. On a previous comment, one person stated that they needed to be treated like young men not a 13 yr old. This is too funny because if they were men then they wouldn't be running around late at night partying and being on the phone late, they would be stepping up like a man and doing what they were brought there to do! come on, have you ever read some of the teams facebook? the party i was at the other night, it is no wonder they are on a roller coaster. it depends how many "late nights" they had that week. it's ashame..come on boys lets get your heads together and play and live like it means something. it's your face on tv not mine

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jhox 3 years, 6 months ago

Some of you guys are beating the Mangino theme to death. We lost 7 in a row to end the year last year, including to mediocre teams like ISU and KSU, and that was with more talent than this year's team has. I liked Mangino, he was great for the program, winning the Orange Bowl and all, and getting us to several other bowls, but we were not getting the kind of recruits it takes to compete with the OU's and Texases of the world. Once the player mutinany took place, recruiting was just going to go further down the toilet.

If we can just win 5 or 6 games this year (big if at this point...I seriously doubt we will) I believe we'll see the best class of recruits come in next year that KU has ever had. Even if we have a 3 or 4 win season, we're likely to see better recruits than the typical Mangino recruiting class had. One more thing, we've made a major upgrade at the defensive coordinator position. If we had Torbush last year, Mangino would still have a job. That cushion defense was a joke.

As for the phone rule, big deal. The girl rule...now that could adversely affect recruiting.

I guess the guys are just going to have to take care of business with their ladies early.

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gardenjay 3 years, 6 months ago

If you're going to ban cell phones, then the load of other distractions needs to be addressed. I'm actually surprised if this country generates anyone with an engineering or science brain, much less a good thinking football team.

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jayhawkjoe98 3 years, 6 months ago

Wait, DeShaun Sands was in a hotel room before his first game?

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brooksmd 3 years, 6 months ago

Life is full of rules. My employer (USPS) bans the use of cell phones, iPods, Bluetooth devices on the workroom floor. So I don't see a problem with this especially as one player put it, the players spend more time together. And if a recruit makes his decision based on the fact he has to do without his phone for 12 days out of 365, oh well.

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vc727 3 years, 6 months ago

Come on Hawks win some games so we can actually read about football on the football page. I din't know why I even bother to read these articles just a Jayhawk Junkie and read it all even if it is stupid. Brings me back to the HCMM discussions about player treatment. People on both sides and a few MUrons sprinkled in to fan the flames. If you look at all D1 programs you could find silly rules like these. Maybe not exactly these but each coach has something they set in stone.

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Dickless Head 3 years, 6 months ago

All this energy controlling cell phones doesn't improve the football program, thus winning more football games.

Gill: focus on football. Not cell phones. Not the bible. Not "You in good shape! Give me a swagger in hare!"

Phuck I miss Mangino. What have we done...

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rockemchalkemrobots 3 years, 6 months ago

For those of us old enough to remember, this is nothing new. Back in 1900 Charles "the mustache" Boynton (known for his thick handlebar mustache) made his players turn in their flints before gameday to prevent them from smoke-signaling their chums. He also implemented a no-ankle-after-the-7 o'clock hour rule. His team went 2-5-2. If not for the 2 ties, they might have run him out on a rail. Fortunate for him, "kissing your cousin", as a tie was known in those days, was not really frowned upon, and so he was dismissed following the season.

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khummel60 3 years, 6 months ago

Its disappointing that we are obsessing over this cell phone nonsense instead of talking football. 72 comments so far about the pros/cons of a 24 hour cell phone ban, while Newel's analysis of why our punt got blocked last week has all of 3 comments.

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NebraskaJayhawk 3 years, 6 months ago

Maybe the football team can use this as a motivator similar to what the Waterboy does. Visualize Coach Gill taking your cell phone away and go lay someone out!

Seriously though, if the kids have a problem with these policies.....grow up. It's just a stupid phone. If that's your life, then you really don't have much of one.

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KWufan 3 years, 6 months ago

I love Turner Gill, but I don't think treating the players like they are still at home in high school is a bit over the top. Young people go to college to learn to be responsible, not be treated like children. Does a proffessor do anything like this so you will study and score that "A" on their test. Hell no, it's up to you to police yourself and make it what you want out of it. Same with football, if the boys want to make a great season, they will do it with a cellphone in their hand just as well as they would without it. Not a big fan of this over-controlling policy, but I do think Turner is our man. Think this one over coach, it's gone a little too far.

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jaymar74 3 years, 6 months ago

If you read between the lines on the girl after 10pm rule, I think he is saying- just don't have any type of an incident with a girl after 10pm and have it get out in the press. He is putting a little extra caution into their actions.

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Larry Smith 3 years, 6 months ago

OK, Whats the big deal here.

The team all stays at a team hotel the night before the game right? Make whatever calls you need before you check in to the hotel. If for some reason you don't do that, then just use the phone that is in the room. Is using a land line that inconvenient? You still have access to the internet, so you can facebook, chat or whatever. I think the main point of the policy as stated is to cut down on distractions in the locker room before a game. That is not a bad thing.

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mulaza 3 years, 6 months ago

Coach, can I at least watch porn?

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grandpa 3 years, 6 months ago

Cell phones are what's wrong with this country. They should all be thriown in the dumpster. We never had any kind of phone when I was growing up and we made it alright. Smoke signals worked just fine.

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KGphoto 3 years, 6 months ago

The recruits may not like the deal, but their parents will.

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KUFan90 3 years, 6 months ago

To be honest I don't get the outrage over the cell phone but hardly any mention of the girls past 10pm rule. The cell phone is one night...the chick thing is EVERY night!

Holy crap...I don't know how I would have made it through college if I couldn't have been at a girl's place past 10pm? That's half the point of going to college isn't it? I'd think that rule is more of a recruiting hit than losing a cell phone for a night?

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jaymar74 3 years, 6 months ago

They have to do without their phones for 12 days a year. They can have them the other 353 days. Get real people and stop looking for any little thing to be critical of regarding this coach.

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jaymar74 3 years, 6 months ago

They have to do without their phones for 12 days a year. They can have them the other 353 days. Get real people and stop looking for any little thing to be critical of regarding this coach.

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Brandon Meek 3 years, 6 months ago

Good grief cut this guy some slack. Based upon the volume of incidents and distractions at KU that have fueled media attention over the last 18 to 24 months, I fully support any policies that will emphasize focus, commitment and teamwork within the football team...and between all KU athletics teams for that matter. These guys are getting scholarships to play football and get an education at one of the best universities in the country. I don't think it's too much to ask that they concentrate their energy on preparing to perform on the field on the day before gameday.

For all of you being so critical, how about this...you can make the rules when you're the head coach. Until you have the qualifications to do that, I don't think your opinion matters that much.

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rolo2383 3 years, 6 months ago

I don't mind this rule at all. I've gone whole weekends before without using my phone or my computer. It was very refreshing.

On another note, the Footballscoop.com website is a joke.

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mulaza 3 years, 6 months ago

What would happen if you got caught talking dirty to a girl on your phone at 1030 on gameday eve?

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Tony Bandle 3 years, 6 months ago

Seems like a bit of an odd lead story the day before a game you are favored to win by over three touchdowns. A little football talk might be a good idea.

Over 40 - "These whiney babies need to grow up, show a little self-discipline and focus on the task at hand. You're out their to win football games. You can call your girl friends later."

Under 40 - " The cell phone has been an extension of our interaction with society most of our lives. What's the big deal? This is like taking a vow of silence for 24 hours. Doesn't our coach trust us?"

If you play competitive football, I personally don't care if you call Peking and talk for eight hours!! :} If you play crappy football, then collect all the cell phones and throw them into the Kaw River!! :{

No malice or serious intent intended.

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slowplay 3 years, 6 months ago

My coach used to call every player between 9 and 9:30 pm on gameday eve to make sure they were in their rooms. Our hair could be no longer than 1 inch and coach would personally cut it if it was too long. Suit and ties were mandatory for all team functions, including daily meals at the Union. We were allowed one 10 min. phone call after supper.

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honk_for_hawks 3 years, 6 months ago

Not a big deal. It forces the team to come together. Just like they said in the article, players hang out in each other's rooms more. They might look at their playbook more. They may just get more sleep. Who knows? All I know is that there are more good things that can come out of it than bad things. We don't need the football players getting their 3 am booty calls and taking an entire half to wake up and get into the game. Now they can be well rested, connect with their teammates more, and focus on the game. I can't even tell you how many times I saw Todd Reesing out at last call the night before a game last year. (wonder why his numbers sucked last year)

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mulaza 3 years, 6 months ago

I'm sure the water boy's mom agrees "cell phones are the devil"

So now we have to recruit anti drug, Jesus loving, no cell phone having, players that also don't like chicks that much.

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khummel60 3 years, 6 months ago

Holy Crap! Some people are just hell-bent on criticizing Gill, no matter how innocuous the topic. And these are the same folks who routinely rail on Gill for being too soft. Now when he takes a tough stand on something he's suddenly being unfair? Are you kidding me? God forbid the student-athletes should study their playbook the night before a game. Maybe you haven't noticed, but every teenager in America has his/her head stuck in their phone every waking moment, and its become a problem. I wish every High School in the country would institute a similar rule - SAT scores would go up instantly if they did. And any High School football star who decides he can't play for KU because he can't live without his cell phone on game day is not the kind of athlete we want anyway.

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newtown 3 years, 6 months ago

“I was like, ‘Man, this is tough,’” Sands said. “I didn’t know what to do in the room. I looked at the TV, but I was like, ‘Man, I’m tired of looking at the TV. I need my phone.’”

DUH !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Ever consider studying ???????????????////

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KU_FanSince75 3 years, 6 months ago

@ Scholz & 100----I totally agree with you. Phones are a distraction. Hopefully, this puts some frustrations into the antics of the "Antlers," at Mizzou!!!

@KUbsee69---I with you, man! I survived without cell phones, iPods, social networking, etc. and did just fine in school. I do have a cell phone but is used for business communications only. Sometimes, on a tough day, I would love to chuck my cell phone in the river--because at times, the cell phone has made my life more complicated and more accessible.

I applaud Coach Gill for standing firm on this! Rock Chalk!

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bennettcl 3 years, 6 months ago

Football is essentially a job for these kids and a way to pay for their education. How would you guys feel if your boss made you check your phone in at the door when you came to work and then give it back when you leave for work? You would feel like a 10 year old right? Sounds unreasonable doesn't it. Don't you practice self-control while your at work and understand you need to get your work done before you have the enjoyment of using your phone. I'm hardly doubt cell phones are the only distraction these kids have. They don't have PS3s, X Boxes, computers, or actual homework to keep them distracted from football do they? I understand the curfew rule, but come one these kids are old enough to know when they need to "do work" and when they can text or call their friends and family.

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KUbsee69 3 years, 6 months ago

OMG ... I can't believe this. My whole life has been messed up because I went to school before cell phones were invented. I just don't see how we survived. We didn't have PCs, laptops, iPods, social networking, or even electronic calculators. KU didn't even have phones in any dorm rooms. It's just horrible ... we were so deprived. I just don't see how we made it through, particularly the math, sciences and engineering courses. But somehow, the CEO of Ford, I, and many others made it through KU's engineering school in that deprived era.

Somehow, without all of those distractions, we managed to help put men on the moon, and invent electronic calculators, PC's, laptops, internetworking, iPods, video games, VCRs, DVRs, et. al.

What great inventions will the new breed be able to invent because of cell phones and texting? Or maybe, they can just win a few FB games.

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100 3 years, 6 months ago

It's an attitude we will develop. No cell phones means no huge distractions (which I think we all can agree cell phones can be). It means studying your playbook & possibly getting some sleep.

It's about attitude.

This isn't chocolate making class.

This is D1 football.

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scholz 3 years, 6 months ago

If this was Bill Self's policy, you wouldn't be saying ANYTHING!!!!!! This happens to be a good rule for many teams at KU. Bonnie does it with our WBB team. She took McCray's phone away for like 2 weeks to prove a point. I've heard Self do the same things with the guys while I was a manager.

Think of it like this. Coach recruits a kid to come here. KU pays for their education = Coach owns them. Anything Coach says, that's what the kids do. I have heard of players having to turn in their car keys for discipline reasons. If you don't want to follow the rules, don't go to school there.

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bennettcl 3 years, 6 months ago

I would think the process of turning in the phones and returning them to the players is more of a distraction than just letting them keep them. It's ridiculous. Sure you could have a policy where players aren't allowed to bring their phones in to meetings and practices, but to not allow them to have their phones the night before the game to allow them to call their family and friends back home is probably just plain annoying to these kids. They come from all over the nation and would probably like to be able to communicate with their friends back home.

Is he going to ban computers in their rooms so they can't get on facebook or other online sites too? Is he going to ban doing homework next? Don't want too many distractions. I think being 1-2 right now would be my biggest distraction.

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tis4tim 3 years, 6 months ago

I don't think it's unreasonable to ask guys to disconnect from the matrix for 24 hours to prepare their minds for a game. It's called discipline.

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Robert Brock 3 years, 6 months ago

Now we know: these are little kids who are upset that they have to put away their toys for awhile and concentrate on something else. THE AGONY!

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Theutus 3 years, 6 months ago

This is a ridiculous policy... I've been extremely lenient with my criticism of Gill... But things just keep adding up.

Treating these young men like they are 13 year olds is only going to piss them off.

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Dyrk Dugan 3 years, 6 months ago

these are rules that if i were the coach, i wouldn't have. as long as the players know them beforehand, and what the consequences are if violated, then OK.

it's a form of discipline and order for sure....a bit extreme but doable. one question i have about the 10 o'clock thing....is that even in the summer?

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Janet Scott 3 years, 6 months ago

No cell phones before game day?!! Shazam!! No wonder I can't get anyone to answer when I call the football guys on Fridays. Um, on the other hand, maybe they're out and sneeking around with a girl ..... and "too busy" to answer!

Oh, does this apply to Bernie Gray-Little, too, on the day(s) before she meets with the Kansas Board of Regents?

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JJHawq 3 years, 6 months ago

holy moly... no girls after 10???? are you mad man?????

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