August 3, 2016
It’s no secret that college sports have come under a lot of scrutiny in recent years. Whether it be the questionably non-existent payment structure for athletes or the dubious recruiting practices of coaches, there is never a shortage of controversy when it comes to university involvement in sports. And while we were all sleeping, the NCAA passed a rule that would change the landscape of social media in college football. And it’s already had some pretty hilarious results.
That’s right, the NCAA passed legislation Monday at midnight that effectively made coach activity on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter less restrictive. Previously, coaches were not allowed to, for example, retweet or like posts made by potential recruits. They were banned from any involvement that may be considered “biased” in the eyes of the NCAA.
But now, coaches are free to like, share, retweet, and reply to anything they choose. The move was a step in the right direction for more open internet laws, but many think the move has opened up the NCAA to a bevy of criticisms. Particularly that they are merely making things more complicated for student athletes that have more than enough on their plate already.
“This is just the NCAA giving in to the me-first generation,” said an SEC director of player personnel that preferred not to be named to ESPN. “We are recruiting these kids to be student-athletes but now even more of their time will be taken away checking social media for coaches’ retweets. Heading down a path of no return.”
While the decision is still in the early stages, coaches have already taken to their smartphones and laptops to show their support of other teams commits. The most notable example of this policy gone wrong is a long-time Michigan recruit being retweeted by Utah Football. The move seems to be a shot in the dark to get his attention but will likely yield little to no result.
Admittedly, the NCAA’s attempt to control the wild west of social media was a futile attempt. And while many coaches and team staff members have spoken out against the move, some coaches are more than confident in their ability to recruit players without the use of social media.
“You have to be comfortable in your brand and your recruiting process,” said Austin Thomas, LSU director of player personnel. “A lot of coaches are reactionary instead of visionary, and they’re afraid of falling behind with every rule change and when big trends like this happen. I don’t think it really works. We still think it’s all about personal relationships. We really aren’t concerned with what others are doing, and we’re just going to continue to develop genuine relationships.”
It’s difficult to say whether this rule will have an overall effect on the landscape of college football. Social media’s reach is far from small, but the college sports world has endured much bigger changes without a fundamental shift in recruiting or gameplay. The move is, however, a positive step in providing these student athletes with the freedom and equality they deserve as contributing members of a money-making industry.
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