New NCAA Social Media Rules, and the Impact

I’m quite the insomniac. So Sunday night I’m up late browsing on social media when I see several new tweets pop up. I click the chrome tab and select to view the new tweets. They are all from one person – Luke Fickell, Ohio State’s defensive coordinator and linebacker coach (I’m a die-hard Buckeye, for those of you who do not know). And all of the tweets have something in common – they are re-tweets. They are re-tweets of committed recruits. They are re-tweets of committed recruits from the class of 2017 and 2018. This has to violate the NCAA social media rules, right?

What? Isn’t that a violation of the NCAA recruiting rules? Are they going to drop the hammer down on us in their usual, overreacting, no you can’t pay for a kid’s meal when his dad just died, way?

Other coaches began doing it too. Tennessee Volunteer coach Butch Jones, Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh, even LSU’s Les Miles.

Is this the seventh sign of the apocalypse?

No, of course not. It is the new, and fairly comical, NCAA rule regarding social media.

You see, if you couldn’t tell from the beginning of the article, back in the good ol’ days no social media interaction between college football coaches and recruits was allowed until the recruit penned his John Hancock on one of those fancy letters of intent. But now the NCAA has made the rule more NCAA like. That is to say, made it more middle ground-ish, complex, and needlessly controversial.

To put it simply, a coach can share, re-tweet or like the post of a recruit so long as they don’t comment on it. The general motto is “click, but don’t type”. Clicking, the stuff you are now able to do on social media, includes:

  • Re-tweeting and sharing a post (unless the prospect in question is currently visiting your school)
  • Liking or “reacting” to a post

Typing, what you are still not allowed to do, includes:

  • Commenting on a post
  • Adding words or emoticons to a share or re-tweet
  • Tagging or mentioning a specific recruit in a post

There’s the rule broken down.

Now do I personally agree with the rule? I could go either way. While I think some people’s need for vindication on social media is something that describes the shallowness, selfishness, and sadness of my generation, I also think that there is really no harm in it so long as people are smart. What made this an issue originally is that some coaches worried they might not get a player because they didn’t re-tweet or favorite as much as another coach. If that is really an issue, then I am against the new by-laws allowing more interactions. Twitter should not be influential in a recruit’s decision, end of story.

The thing is, I don’t think — at least in most cases — that social media really does impact a recruit’s decision. Most players are smart enough to choose their college based on where they feel most comfortable, not which coach favorited their offer letter picture. But you can bet that most coaches will not take that risk when trying to land that five star that could change their program. Which brings me to the other negative of this situation, the hassle. Every team wants the edge on their opponents, and if re-tweeting is a way to get one, by golly they will re-tweet everything a recruit throws up in 140 characters or less.

To sum this whole situation up, I think it’s funny sometimes to look at this day and age we now live in where social media is considered a recruiting resource that needs to have its own by-laws. I’m active on social media and in the same generation as these recruits, so who am I to judge? To get a like or a re-tweet feels good, let alone a like or a re-tweet from Urban Meyer. That said, it should have no impact on where an athlete furthers his or her academic and athletic career. And I hope the folks out there are smart enough that it won’t.

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