The University of Iowa states that they are confident that a less-intrusive social media policy is adequate for their student athletes. The reason? It stressed student responsibility. "We said that's a private thing and students have the right to privacy," stated the head of the UI Presidential Committee on Athletics. So does all of this mean that athletes can tweet whatever they please without punishment? The answer is no. If athletics officials receive complaints about a player or post on Twitter or Facebook than the situation will be looked into.
Ohio State University, on the other hand, may be cracking down a bit more. OSU's social media policy requires that students "may not block or otherwise prevent coaches or athletic department staff members from viewing [their] site." According to lawyers this may be violating an individual's constitutional rights to free speech. Bradley Shear, a social media lawyers, says that "If you're a public school, this is a clear violation of First and Fourth Amendment rights." You may just be thinking football, basketball, and other prominent sports but it is on a team-by-team basis. An OSU synchronized swimmer says she is required to add her coach on social media sites and that the coach monitors her online presence frequently. "She definitely goes on and checks our Facebook often," she said.
Schools like the University of North Carolina, University of Kansas, University of Missouri, and numerous others have decided to employ outside sources in an effort to track athletes' social media use. One example of this is UDiligence. Kevin Long, the current CEO of UDiligence, said, "When an athlete installs our app, [they] grant us access to the information in their account." He says that they never find out the athlete's passwords, it is simply an app that gives access. As most know, access is granted very easily through social media and UDiligence does just that. Another example of social monitoring is Varsity Monitor which I talked about in a previous post.
In years past, Kansas State coaches have taken a hands-off approach to athlete social media interactions, but after some abuse by the football and basketball teams, they're singing a different tune now. In order to head off any problems, the K-State men's basketball team conducted a training session or social media before their season which focused primarily on Twitter behavior.
What may be the most shocking is the policy set by Montana State University. Their social media policy states this: "Do not post information about specific student athletes, unless it is related to an award or honor." When fans are following a team they want engagement between players. We see professional athletes engage with each other on occasion and college athletes are typically together when using social media. With this policy, players cannot share updates about spending time with each other or even let everyone know what a great job someone did at a game.
What does the NCAA have to say? They recently stated that colleges should only be monitoring student athlete accounts when there is suspicion. The NCAA has, however, stayed quiet about the subject of private and password-protected material.
Smart move, NCAA. Smart move.