Whether you like it or not, social media is now embedded in every facet of society. It’s impossible to get through a news broadcast at any level without hearing about how to follow on Facebook, and the news cycle is faster than ever thanks to Twitter.
Social media allows for greater connectivity with just about everything, including college athletics programs. But it goes without saying that the door swings both ways, meaning the final barriers between coaches and recruits are crumbling.
The NCAA, therefore, introduced new rules that will govern how coaches and players interact on “any public social media platform,” specifically Twitter. It is now permissible for any staff member to like, retweet, favorite, or otherwise endorse a recruit’s post.
The general rule of thumb means that coaches can click but not comment. It means they can click on pretty much anything but can’t comment directly on the note. It’s also important that this applies to any recruit at any age.
That means they can retweet a recruit without a comment but then subsequently tweet a comment about the recruit. But he can’t like a Facebook status with anything in the comments section. A coach can share an article, but he can’t tag the recruit.
For coaches who are active on Twitter, it means they’re likely going to be nothing but a bunch of RT’s and endorsements of recruits. It also means players are likely going to be muck up Twitter feeds more and more by tweeting directly at coaches. Remember that coaches can RT or favorite it, as long as they don’t comment.
It also means coaches are more likely to become active on Twitter. That medium in particular is at the center of the storm because it’s the easiest of all the platforms to interact with people on. It’s also one of the fastest because it’s really open sourced without a need to mutually know someone before you start interacting. We’ve seen an increased growth of Twitter usage to begin with, but now it’s really going to get crazy.
Social media in recruiting is, of course, controversial in its own way, especially because Twitter is so open-sourced to all parties. Coaches and players interacting opens the door for more fan interaction, which is technically considered illegal recruiting. Fans aren’t supposed to be encouraging athletes to attend their schools, and they also shouldn’t be discouraging or disparaging them when they choose otherwise.
Because this involves prospects of any age, get prepared for the gray area of tweeting at a teenage kid to become even more muddled. As for fans? The lesson remains the same: it’s pretty creepy to tweet nice or horrible things at 15-17 year old kids. So just don’t do it.