Last fall, before he got fired, Texas Tech football coach Mike Leach banned his Red Raiders from using Twitter after a player tweeted that his coach had been late to a team meeting.
Twitter and Facebook were “stupid” distractions, Leach said, and only narcissists want to “type stuff about themselves all the time.”
Yet, that’s what tens of thousands of college athletes are doing—sending a flood of mostly inane and meaningless chatter that sometimes includes something of interest either to their school or the NCAA. Finding those comments can be overwhelming—but schools now have an app that can do it.
Roughly two dozen athletic departments are using a software program that tracks the Facebook, Twitter, and MySpace pages of athletes for inappropriate posts. When a questionable one pops up, it can alert school officials in a matter of minutes.
“The way we tried to present this to student-athletes [was], ‘We’re not trying to spy on you. It’s not that we don’t trust you. It’s that we care about you,” said Nebraska associate athletic director Keith Zimmer, whose department bought the software after two wrestlers posed for a pornography web site in 2008.
Vermont-based UDiligence sells the program to schools for up to $5,000 per year, billing itself as “reputation management for student-athletes.” But it’s also clear that schools are paying for reputation preservation.