ncaa and social media...

by Prez Ro, Matteson, IL

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Because of social media like Facebook and Twitter, fans have unprecedented access to the prospects their schools are recruiting. But in many cases, these interactions can constitute NCAA secondary violations when initiated by "representatives of the institution's athletic interests," otherwise known as boosters.

Just recently, former Washington All-American Lawyer Milloy might have committed such a violation when he contacted Shaq Thompson on Twitter and wrote that Thompson would "look nice in Purple & Gold," Washington's colors.

Thompson, the No. 16 in the ESPNU 150 and the nation's No. 3 safety, is committed to Cal but is still considering the Huskies.

"The institutions are responsible for monitoring the contact between boosters and prospective student athletes," said Charnele Kemper, the NCAA's associate director of academic and membership affairs.

But for university compliance departments, this can be a meticulous, time-consuming undertaking. Even for those athletic departments with enormous resources and large compliance staffs.

The University of Oklahoma compliance office recently had to hire a full-time staffer to help monitor the social media of prospective student-athletes. Anytime a suspicious interaction occurs on Twitter or Facebook, that staffer follows up to make sure the person initiating the contact isn't affiliated with the university. Oklahoma is also researching software options that will help monitor these interactions.

"The challenge for our office is ensuring that no individual is involved in the recruiting process other than our coaches, including on social media," said Jason Leonard, executive director of compliance at Oklahoma. "But this can be very burdensome considering the number of people on social-networking sites who are also fans of the university.

"It's becoming an ever-increasing burden."

One that isn't going away anytime soon.


Florida coach Will Muschamp said social media also provides another glimpse into a player's character, warning that "kids need to understand that they have to be very careful about what they do on social media."

Cornerback Yuri Wright found this out the hard way. Wright, No. 40 in the ESPNU 150, was kicked out of Don Bosco Prep in Ramsey, N.J., last week after several sexually graphic and racially explicit posts appeared on his Twitter account.

Wright initially had numerous scholarship offers, but several schools cooled on him after the Twitter posts went viral. Wright ended up committing to Colorado this week.

"If a kid posts something stupid on Facebook, it bothers you," Polian said. "You have to ask yourself, at what point is this a kid being a kid or is this what we will have to deal with?"

Wright told this week he's learned his lesson, and is "grateful" that Colorado coach Jon Embree gave him a second chance.

"Hopefully, other people will learn from what happened to me and make smarter choices," Wright said. "My days with social media are over, I promise. No more Twitter. No more Facebook. I have a phone, and if I want to talk to someone now, I'm just calling or texting them."

SPECIAL: Social Media and Sports...


However, many recruits, like California center commitment Matt Cochran, have been using social media to their benefit.

As a junior, Cochran, from Atwater (Calif.) Buhach Colony, jump-started his recruitment by Facebook messaging coaches across the country a YouTube copy of his highlight film.

"Recruiting started out really slow for me," Cochran said. "I figured I'd message coaches to see if they'd be interested."

Cochran's recruitment was anything but slow after that. Especially when he committed to Auburn in the fall and didn't even know it. Turned out, Cochran was the victim of a practical joke by teammate Aziz Shittu, who signed on Cochran's Facebook account and posted that he had committed to Auburn.

"I found out two hours after he did it," said Cochran, who got out of school to find dozens of texts, voicemails and Facebook messages congratulating him on the commitment. "It was kind of funny. But it was a mess for a little while."

Real commitments -- and decommitments -- via social media have turned out to be equally as messy. South Carolina running back pledge Mike Davis stunned his 4,000-plus followers earlier this month when the Stone Mountain (Ga.) Stephenson star tweeted that he had decommitted from Florida. Many of those followers were Gators fans.

"A lot of them were like, 'We respect your decision, you have to do what's best for you,'" said Davis, the No. 62 player on the ESPNU 150. "But most of it was negative, people taking it the wrong way, attacking me. "

Auburn wide receiver commitment Ja'Quay Williams apparently took so much grief on Twitter from Tigers fans for taking a visit to Georgia last weekend, he actually handed off his account to a friend.

"It's bad that my boy Quay can't even run his twitter anymore," the friend tweeted, "cause you people won't even let the kid have fun and enjoy himself in High School."

When fans aren't attacking recruits on social media, they often are trying to persuade them to come play for their schools.

"That part surprised me a lot," said Arkansas wide receiver commitment Keon Hatcher, a four-star prospect out of Owasso (Okla.) High School who flirted with Oklahoma State before reaffirming his pledge to the Razorbacks. "It felt good to be wanted."

Hatcher was also surprised at the outset of his recruitment by how many Facebook messages he would get from coaches.

"I got messages every day asking, 'How's it going?' and everything like that," Hatcher said. "But this is the Internet age. Almost every recruit is on Twitter and Facebook. It's a good way to get in touch with recruits."

Even more can be found on this subject, Facebook / Twitter and how it effected some players recruiting at

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