August 26, 2011 Mississippi State dismissed freshman forward D.J. Gardner from the basketball program citing
“for repeated actions deemed detrimental to the team.”
This news came only hours after several vulgar tweets were posted to Gardener’s twitter account, which was deleted soon after.
This brings me to the question “should a college athlete’s actions on their personal social media accounts be held against them?”
Let’s face it, social media is everywhere today. Most everyone has uses it and it can be accessed in the palm of your hand from anywhere, at anytime. Social media can be a very powerful tool and needs to be used very carefully.
Some people may argue that his privacy was violated and that what he posts on social media shouldn’t be held against him and his athletic career. However Gardner is just one of many examples of college athletes that have had careers cut short because of stupid mistakes made via social media.
Examples of Social Media Mistakes Made by College Athletes
Bradley Patterson was a football player from the University of Northern Alabama and was dismissed from the team shortly after he tweeted about not caring for President Obama. His tweet was
“Take that n**** off the tv, we wanna watch football”
Needless to say his twitter account was also deactivated.
Cardale Jones was a football player for Ohio State University when he sent out this gem of a tweet…
Why should we have to go to class if we came here to play FOOTBALL, we ain’t come to play SCHOOL, classes are POINTLESS.
He was sidelined for his next game his Twitter account was deleted.
Last but not least is Courtney Fortson, a basketball player from the University of Arkansas. His tweet-
I’m gettin it at workouts like a dude who doesn’t understand the word no from a drunk girl.
May not have been his smartest move right after several U of A students had been accused of rape. He was suspended indefinitely from the team.
While the NCAA doesn’t have any “set in stone” rules regarding social media use of current athletes, they do have rules regarding social media use in the context of recruiting. Some of those rules include no texting between coaches and recruits, no electronic transmittance via instant messaging through social media sites, and no posting on social media “walls” of recruits just to name a few.
In spite of having no set rules fro current student athletes, the NCAA recently suspended Lehigh’s Ryan Spadola for “retweeting” an allegedly inappropriate racial slur. The NCAA chose to make an example of the student-athlete, despite his apology.
In light of many recent events, including the Ryan Spadola incident, many schools are adopting their own social media policies. The following example is from the University of Southern California’s Student Athlete Social Media Policy:
• Photos, videos, and comments that are of a sexual nature. This includes links to websites of a pornographic nature and other inappropriate material.
• Pictures, videos, comments or posters that condone drug-related activity. This includes but is not limited to images that portray the personal use of marijuana and drug paraphernalia.
• Content online that is unsportsmanlike, derogatory, demeaning or threatening toward any other individual or entity (examples: derogatory comments regarding another institution; taunting comments aimed at a student-athlete, coach or team at another institution and derogatory comments against race and/or gender). No posts should depict or encourage unacceptable, violent or illegal activities (examples: hazing, sexual harassment/assault, gambling, discrimination, fighting, vandalism, academic dishonesty, underage drinking, illegal drug use).
• Content online that would constitute a violation of Pac-12 or NCAA rules (examples: commenting publicly about a prospective student-athlete, providing information related to sports wagering activities; soliciting impermissible extra benefits).
• Information that is sensitive or personal in nature or is proprietary to the USC Athletic Department or the university, which is not public information (examples: tentative or future team schedules, student-athlete injuries and eligibility status, travel plans/itineraries or information).
Recruiting and Social Media
Brandon Chambers, a Marymount VA men’s basketball assistant, once tweeted
“Never let a 140 character tweet cost you a $140,000 scholarship”
Recruits are being scrutinized more than ever on their social media usage and in the example below SMU coach Van Malone shows how a potential recruit is being monitored via his personal social media.
Another example of social media affecting recruiting is Yuri Wright. Yuri Wright, one of the best high school cornerbacks in the country, was recently expelled from his high school after sexual and racially offensive comments were made on his private Twitter account. Despite being “private,” this account had at least 1500 followers, all of whom could see the offending messages. As a result of the postings and expulsion, the University of Michigan stopped its recruiting efforts.
Now you can see how one tiny lapse in judgment can completely and totally alter the future of a student athlete. Is a tweet really worth it?
Personally I believe that everyone should watch what they say on social media. You never know who is watching what you say and do. Treat everything you put out there for the world to see like a potential job interview.
Would you really want your boss to see that you went out to the club drinking with your friends and drunk tweeted everything you did that night? Do you really want your personal relationship drama out there for people to see? Do you really want your extremely bad grammar skill on display? I really hope the answer is no to all of these questions.
Back to my original question, “should a college athlete’s actions on their personal social media accounts be held against them?” I really think it depends on the situation. If a college athlete has signed a social media policy saying outlining rules to follow ad one is broken then yes, they are in the wrong. However if they haven’t signed anything then I don’t think anything should be held against them.
What are your thoughts on college athletes and social media use?