Twitter Costs Athletic Scholarships

Can social media costs athletic scholarship money?

High school athletes can lose a scholarship in 140-characters.  Read that again.  Yes, it is absurd to think that social media, as harmless and fun as it can be, has that much influence on your future.  It only takes one tweet to jeopardize a free or discounted college education. 

Twitter is a micro-blogging tool that is used by millions, including high school athletes and college coaches.  Each tweet is 140-characters or less that can be favorited, retweeted, and screen captured to share with thousands even millions more!  The social networking site is popular with the high school demographic.  Some use it to tweet about the school dance, what they are eating in the cafeteria, or how they dominated on Friday night football.  However, there is always the temptation or lack of awareness to post demeaning comments, and it just takes one tweet to potentially cost a high school recruit thousands of dollars.

mark richt football

University of Georgia Football Coach, Mark Richt

Division one football coach, Mark Richt, rescinded his scholarship offer to a recruit because of the recruit’s twitter activity.  Richt’s staff notified the recruit that they were not happy with how the recruit was behaving on twitter.  The recruit changed his twitter handle to a new username and continued to misbehave on twitter.  So, Richt decided it was time to cut ties with that recruit. Social media activity is monitored very closely by entire coaching staffs!

Georgia coach Mark Richt told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that he dropped a recruit who was committed to his school because of the player’s presence on Twitter:

“We told (the kid and) we told his coach (that) we don’t condone that, and he was a guy who was already committed to Georgia. And he persisted. Well, actually he changed his (Twitter) handle and continued to do that kind of thing thinking we wouldn’t find out. And we found out about it, and we cut him.”

Richt isn’t the only coach from a high profile college program to stop recruiting an athlete based on the athlete’s social activity.  Penn State coach, Herb Hand, sent out a tweet on his account that he stopped recruiting a player because of the player’s social feed.  Hand’s tweet about it was:

Here Hand football coach

University of Houston head football coach, Tony Levine, said in a 2014 interview that he has dropped three recruits from the 2014 class because of inappropriate remarks posted on social media.

tony levine football coach

Tony Levine

“There are certain things you are looking for,” Levine said. “I think it gives you a little insight now into the young man you are talking about becoming a part of your program.”

College coaches at all levels in every sport are taking to social media to monitor potential recruits.  RecruitLook Scouts speak with college coaches on a regular basis, and coaches are not afraid to voice their concern over a potential recruit’s social media activity.

“College coaches outside the division one level have a smaller room for error when it comes to their recruits.  Smaller programs need talented players with good characters.  Coaches outside D1 won’t win if they are constantly kicking kids off their team,” said Mike Enright, CEO or RecruitLook.

Most programs don’t have the recruiting budgets and resources that major Division One institutions have.  Therefore, smaller schools are doing as much research on recruits as possible before they commit to offering a scholarship. A lot of that research starts on the recruit’s social media account.

“What better place to see what a person is really like than on their social media account,” Enright said.  “If a recruit is inappropriate on an open forum like twitter, coaches will probably assume the same behavior will carryover to the classroom, playing field and locker room.”

Twitter should be more about bringing excitement to the college recruiting space.  Athletes are more accessible than ever before, giving fans and athletes a way to interact in real-time.  Colleges are also using social media to promote the school, give live updates, and create a fun environment for all fans and athletes to interact.

There is a lot of good that comes with social media, but recruits need to be aware of the harm it can cause to their future if not monitored properly.

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