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2013 NCAA Convention: Social Media and Student-Athletes

The NCAA’s social media and student-athletes session did not touch on compliance per se, except for compliance with state laws, noting that four states have passed laws banning schools from many of the techniques used to monitor social media use by students like getting account credentials or using some third-party monitoring services. NCAA rules like those governing the use of social media by coaches were touched on, but were not a big part of the presentation.

Instead the panelists focused on a push to move beyond monitoring and banning social media use by athletes and to include more education and even promotion of athletes’ accounts. Daniel Hour, Manager of New Media and Recruiting Services at the University of Washington talked about the Huskies’ program of promoting the best athlete Twitter accounts. That has become a carrot to go along with the stick of monitoring or talking to athletes about their social media use when they say something inapproriate.

Like many issues not covered by a strict NCAA rule, how it impats recruiting comes into play. Both Hour and Fieldhouse Media’s Kevin DeShazo spoke about needing to show athletes some trust. Schools which use social media heavily in the recruiting process then ban athletes from using it are sending a mixed message about the value of social media and the level of trust they have for their athletes.

DeShazo and Wren Baker, the athletic director at Northwest Missouri State were asked by the NCAA’s Dana Thomas about monitoring. All the panelists agreed that monitoring needs to be part of a larger program of education, rather than the only tool used to enforce compliance. Baker reminded the audience that student-athletes are just kids, and adding strict social media rules to the already large set of regulations they have to abide by can become too much very quickly.

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