No, this isn’t MrBigTen.com — though we do own that domain name, thank ya very much — but Michigan football coach Brady Hoke has brought up one of our favorite topics: Athletes and social media.
Turns out a Michigan player sent out a congratulatory message on Twitter to a UM commit earlier this month. That could be a secondary NCAA violation. (Tennessee is also currently facing a potential slap on the wrist thanks to a player’s tweet. Sticking with UT for a moment, a former hoops player at UT once brought his own eligibility into question by mentioning a business in a YouTube clip.)
CollegeFootballTalk.com has Hoke’s reaction to the mess:
“I think social media happened so quickly, and the NCAA is trying to get its head around all that stuff. We just need to keep educating our players… and I’ll mention what they put out there and what they say. But there’s no question something needs to happen.”
Hoke also said having to report secondary violations for tweets and texts is “wasting people’s time.”
Well, until the NCAA does open the door to any and all tweets and texts, here’s our standard suggestion: Coaches, keep your kids away from social media.
An NCAA investigation into the North Carolina football program — an investigation that cost Butch Davis and many of his assistants their jobs — began with a single player’s tweet. One comment about partying with an agent/runner caused UNC’s improving football program to unravel.
A few coaches have created social media policies. Fewer have banned their players from using Twitter and Facebook. Most simply take the “I’ll deal with it if they say something stupid” tack.
And that’s dangerous.
One dumb tweet can tarnish a program’s reputation. One bad Facebook comment could lead to an NCAA investigation that might uncover all manner of dirt.
Until the NCAA revises its rules on social media, the safest path is to ix-nay social media.
For those of you crying “First Amendment rights!” you don’t really understand the First Amendment or why it was created. Players could still tweet if they wanted to… but they’d be subject to punishments, suspension or banishment from their athletic team. They wouldn’t be thrown in jail.
If you disagree, you might try to tweet that your boss is an arse and see if you can use the First Amendment to save your own rear. Ain’t gonna happen.
Further, what about all those coaches who already keep freshmen (and other players) away from the media altogether? Barring social media would just be an extension of those policies.
The smart coaches will snuff it out until the rules change. Those who don’t risk secondary violations and much, much worse.