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A SWAT for taking the social out of social media

Submitted by on Thursday, 16 April 2009 No Comment

First off, thanks to Debra for the chance to guest post on her blog.

One of her favorite features (and mine) is giving a SWAT – Stop Wasting America’s Time – to groups or people who need a hobby – or something better to do with their time and ours.

Today, I’m giving a SWAT of my own to the NCAA and North Carolina State University. They’ve conspired to throw cold water on a grassroots campaign to persuade a highly regarded high school basketball player to sign with the Wolfpack.

NC State freshman Taylor Moseley received a “cease and desist” letter from an athletics compliance official for starting a Facebook group to encourage John Wall, a Raleigh-area senior and nationally top-ranked recruit, to play his college hoops with NC State. More than 700 had joined the group, which ended up changing its name so it didn’t offend the sensibilities of the NCAA.

Apparently the Facebook group Moseley started (along with other groups trying to woo Wall to schools such as Duke, Kentucky, Baylor and North Carolina) runs afoul of NCAA rules prohibiting universities from trying to sway the college choices of prospective student athletes. It seems even a public university has the right to try restricting the free speech rights of students simply because the university has signed a contract with a private organization, the NCAA.

The NCAA’s position is that people using online social media to persuade recruits to sign with a college athletic program makes those people “boosters” and subject to NCAA rules. Colleges and universities are expected to maintain control over “boosters” and take action against those who don’t adhere to those rules; actions can include refusing tickets to or dissociating a university’s athletic program from such wayward “boosters”.

And it looks like I’m not the only person who thinks this particular situation stinks (far from it).  Even the athletics compliance official at NC State, Michelle Lee, said she wasn’t quite right with having to send the nasty-gram to Moseley.  She says NCAA rules sorely lag behind 21st century technology and need to keep up with the times – but acknowledges she had to address the issue to cover the university’s keester with the NCAA.

Then again, the NCAA has also been criticized for football rules that penalize teams for “excessive celebration” after touchdowns – and tossing bloggers with press credentials for live blogging at its national championship events. These latest antics of going after Facebook groups don’t surprise me at all.
Know of someone who deserves a SWAT? Click here to make a nomination.

Brian Heath is a 40-something hubby of one, daddy of two, and credit wonk for a certain large Ohio-based utility company.  When he’s not helping wrangle his 6-year-old daughter and 3-year-old son, he’s spodding around on Twitter, his blog or Facebook.  His life journey’s taken him to Mississippi, upstate New York, and Washington state; and his prior work lives have included stints as a cable guy, TV news photojournalist, and direct mail production manager. He and his family live in a suburb of Akron, Ohio – and play out a “Everybody Loves Raymond” scenario lby iving next door to his parents.

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