North Texas Daily

The complex relationship between NCAA athletes, coaches and social media

The complex relationship between NCAA athletes, coaches and social media

Photo Illustration | Colin Mitchell | Tomas Gonzalez

The complex relationship between NCAA athletes, coaches and social media
October 19
17:46 2016

Last spring, the NCAA passed legislation that effectively changed how colleges recruit athletes. The new policy allows coaches to interact with recruits by favoriting and retweeting them on Twitter. While the NCAA has a limit on how many phone calls coaches can make to prospective athletes, social media is far less regulated.

For coaches, social media is a platform to contact, recruit and gather information about players, and for players, it’s a way to get recruited and interact with admirers.

“We appreciate our fans,” sophomore wide receiver Terian Goree said. “They do so much for us and we do our best to show appreciation for our fans for the time and sacrifice they give for us.”

Across all sports, many North Texas recruits have Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat accounts. Whether it’s through one of those aforementioned platforms or something else, social media has invaded almost every aspect of the recruiting process.

For decades, recruiting was done behind closed doors and fans would be lucky to know what prospects were being targeted by a program. Those days are long gone, for better or worse, as some athletes now give play-by-play commentary of their recruitment for everyone to see.

Social media also gives fans a behind-the-scenes glimpse into the process, as prospects live-tweet, Instagram or Vine their in-home and official visits.

“Social media is one of the first things I look at when I’m looking to recruit an athlete,” head track and field coach Carl Sheffield said. “It says a lot about who they are and it’s important to know as a recruiter what kind of athlete you’re getting down the road.”

But more than just in the world of sports, social media has become important to the world, in general. Many people get their news, meet friends and learn things on a constant basis every time they check Twitter or Facebook. High school seniors who are being pursued by universities can be heavily impacted by their social media presence, facing serious consequences if it is misused.

“My advice for high school seniors, and athletes in general, is quite simple,” junior running back Jeffery Wilson said. “If you wouldn’t want your mother or your grandmother to see it, that means you shouldn’t post it or even let the world see your opinion on the particular subject.”

Many coaches use social media to showcase their schools and boast various facilities. North Texas head football coach Seth Littrell frequently interacts with players and even fans in the offseason and has tweeted things from GIFs to Drake Lyrics.

“Coach Littrell is doing a great job using social media,” Goree said. “He helps out a lot, and it makes UNT great.”

For athletes especially, social media can either help build reputations or quickly destroy them.

Many recruits forget their friends aren’t the only ones with access to their accounts. Coaches can easily see what they post, retweet, favorite, like, share, and in many cases, can also see what an athlete’s friends are posting.

And senior setter Amy Henard has a simple piece of advice for her fellow athletes.

“You have to be careful about how [you] use [social media],” Henard said. “It can change your life completely. Don’t let anyone into your social media, and be careful about who you follow.

Featured Illustration: Tomas Gonzalez

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Trevon McWilliams

Trevon McWilliams

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