We have heard about employers perusing Facebook, Twitter and any social media sites available to see if their seemingly perfect new employee really does not have any skeletons hidden in his/her closet and we have certainly heard college admissions experts warn high school juniors that colleges might frequent these sites as well to see what a “soon-to-be-admitted” college freshman does in his/her free time.
But little has been brought up about potential college athletes being watched and monitored over social media sites – until now. So, for all the Jeremy Lin and Stephen Strasburg wannabes out there, just know that in addition to coaches scouting you and following your every free throw and home run, they are also checking out your social media plays – particularly for you football players.
In fact, social media has quickly become the new way for coaches to communicate with potential recruits and almost every elite recruiter has a Facebook or Twitter account, or both, according to a recent blog post on AJC.
“I’m on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and you name it,” University of Virginia head football coach Mike London said. “You will find out more about guys on Facebook and Twitter sometimes than you will having a 10-minute conversation with them because a lot of times they will let their guard down and show a side maybe you haven’t thought about before.”
And for those of you that are wondering if this type of “Big Brother” behavior is acceptable, according to the NCAA, the National Collegiate Athletic Association, rules are not being broken by these behaviors. In fact, as per the NCAA rules, a coach can send a Facebook friend request to a prospective student-athlete and follow them on Twitter.
But what coaches are learning about their prospective linebackers or star pitchers is not all good.
According to the blog, last year, one of New Jersey’s top prospects was expelled from school and had scholarship offers allegedly rescinded after he posted explicit messages on Twitter. And over at Duluth High School in Georgia, Coach Corey Jarvis experienced the same thing when one of his former players was recently kicked off a college team for the same reasons. “It was the final straw. It was stuff that shouldn’t have been posted. I understood where the college was coming from. He was representing the program when he did that.”
For those of you that have the time to check out the blog above, it is worth the read. It is incredible to hear about how many students realize quickly that they are being tracked via social media and how many students soil their chances to play collegiate sports because of social media misconduct.
After reading this blog, I have to admit that although I tend to be against social media monitoring, a bigger part of me feels content with the fact that college athletes will be held to the same standards as any other college student when it comes to social media use in that colleges have no problem saying no to a student who cannot exhibit proper networking behavior. After all, we hear countless times about how college athletes are given the “Red Carpet” treatment – from not having to attend class regularly to grade inflation to illicit substance cover ups. It is nice that maybe the carpet is being shortened a bit.
Simply put, if a college will deny a non-athlete admission because of poor behavior online that same behavior should not be condoned just because that particular student can help the college win the NCAA championship.
It’s time to level the playing field (pun intended) and have each student held accountable no matter if they don a jersey on weekends or a sparkly dance top instead. And to you high schoolers – with college scouts (both for sports and admissions) on the prowl, you may want to think twice before tapping the mouse on that most recent Tweet.