A Couple Of Guys Looked At Social Media Utilization At DII Schools

I look to the right side of my screen a lot when I’m on this page. There’s a lot of cool stuff over there (if you didn’t know that already–and if you really didn’t, shame on you), but what I look at most frequently is my #NCAA Twitter feed. That’s where I find a lot of the stories I write about on here.

Today I looked and found a couple of college kids (not much unlike my grad student-self) giving a presentation on…well, basically what I’ve been looking at for the past few months:  social media and college athletics. However, I lightly touch the surface of all divisions and mainly look at college athletes as the whole; these guys, Matt Boyd and Opie Wilson, looked at the influence of social media on Division II athletes, specifically.

Here’s a quick 10-and-a-half minute video of what they discovered.

P.S. They did math and didn’t catch on fire. That’s some serious sorcery in this profession.

College Kids: They’re Just Like Us!

As it turns out, college kids do more than make questionable life decisions! As a matter of fact, about 20 of them got together in early April to make your Final Four experience all the more enjoyable (unless you are a fan of either Kentucky or Michigan State, in which case that weekend no longer exists in your memory).

Sports Link, the nation’s first fully immersive digital sports production program located at Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana, partnered up with the NCAA’s digital and social media department to cover the 2015 NCAA men’s basketball Final Four.

“We are excited to partner with the Ball State Sports Link program on this initiative,” said Nate Flannery, director of NCAA digital and social media, championships and alliances. “Not only does it provide our Final Four social media platforms with valuable content, it also gives the next generation of content producers firsthand experience.”

A team of about 20 digital sports production students at Ball State spent their weekend creating, filtering, and responding to content while operating an array of social media tools to give fans, both in Indianapolis and at home, the best Final Four experience possible.

If that’s not awesome enough for you, Sports Link sent field producers to Indy to find stories and capture reactions from the NCAA-related events that were being held downtown.

Just college kids writing about college kids for millions of people. Nothin’ (everything) to see here, folks.


The Internet Isn’t A Secret And Everyone Knows How To Use It, Just FYI

PSA for high school recruits (and literally anyone that currently exists, in general):  just because you think nobody is really looking at your social media posts, doesn’t mean nobody is looking at your social media posts.

On the contrary, if you’re a high school recruit, you’re garnering a special type of attention.


That was only a tweet sent out by Oklahoma State assistant football coach, Jemal Singleton. Not a big deal or anything…

Except it is a big deal–a large one if you really think about it. Tweeting irresponsibly and immaturely could cost you a scholarship and a chance at competing in college athletics.

Look at it this way:  Oklahoma State is a Division 1 school. The cost of attendance? In 2014, a pretty penny. Out-of-state residents, as many recruited athletes tend to be, paid $37K and some change per year in tuition. Multiply that times four and that’s a little more than $148,000 that 140 characters could ultimately cost you.

Not long after Singleton’s tweet, the assistant football coach at Penn State, Herb Hand, sent out a similar tweet:

“Dropped another prospect this AM due to his social media presence … Actually glad I got to see the ‘real’ person before we offered him.”

That tweet, along with Singleton’s, was retweeted a combined 11,000 times.

“Social media has become an integral part of the college recruiting process, providing coaches with easy, almost unlimited access to potential recruits. Coaches can’t make contact via social media until, in most cases, an athlete’s junior year. But they can check a social media profile long before that.”

That’s right, high school freshmen; your tweets could put your future at risk, too. No pressure.

If you’re thinking, “That wouldn’t happen to me,” then here are three instances of other athletes who thought the same thing:

1.)  This New Hampshire basketball player who tweeted profanity-laced tweets about his opponent.

2.)  This Ohio soccer player who was suspended from the team for retweeting a tweet about marijuana.

3.)  These five baseball players who were benched after creating an obscene Harlem Shake video.

It’s trending, it’s popular, it may really be “self-expression.” But it’s also the price you pay for a one-way ticket to losing your college scholarship if you’re not careful.


Media v. The Athlete


Fans (well, rather, their counterparts) aren’t the only ones who can stand behind the safety of a computer screen to bully from a considerably safe distance. That power to do so also comes with the territory of working in today’s media.

Stu Bykofsky, a writer for the Daily News in Philadelphia, wrote about the recent post-game faux-pas of Andrew Harrison in his column titled, “The N-word and punks.” Throughout the piece, he did everything possible to kick not only Harrison, but the entire team while they were down while simultaneously claiming there is a “triple standard” at play.

If you didn’t know that Aaron Harrison and Frank Kaminsky were members of college basketball teams before reading Bykofsky’s column, you probably wouldn’t after reading it, either. After reading it, it feels like you’re being called to act in race riots in the streets of Indianapolis. Aaron Harrison used the n-word? Anarchy!

Bykofsky makes it sound like the actions of Harrison are deplorable and that he is incapable of remorse and lacks the brain cells necessary to form a coherent apology, because he, along with the rest of his team, are punks.

Punks because they, as an entire team, did not shake hands after the game. Punks because Aaron was caught saying something he shouldn’t have not ten minutes after losing in one of the biggest games of the entire tournament. Punks for visiting children’s hospitals and the elderly. Punks for going to class on a handful of hours of sleep after coming back from a game. Punks for having a cumulative 3.1 grade point average.

If that’s not what a punk is, by definition, then I’m not sure what is.

Journalists are supposed to report the news unbiasedly. Columnists are supposed to write opinion, and hopefully dig up a handful of facts that give their opinion some weight. Bykofsky seemed to have forgotten than small detail, rather choosing the route that blows up one instance and tries to make it a racial issue.

What I believe we should all remember is the fact that these kids–yes, kids–are all 18, 19, 20 years old. Show me a 20-year old who was making 100 percent stellar decisions and I’ll close the lid to this laptop and promise to never write another word again. Does the fact that Harrison garners national attention change much? Not really. It changes the fact that he shouldn’t have said it, but would it make anyone feel better to know that he said it in a mic-free room?

Bykofsky made a point when he brought up “cultural atmosphere,” but not much of one. We do live in a society where saying the slang term “nigga,” as Harrison did, can be taken to mean one thing in one instance, and completely different thing in another instance. I’m not one to decide on the usage; I’m just here to remind everyone that there is a distinct difference between “nigga” and the actual n-word.

As a 24-year old white girl, I’m less offended by the noun in Harrison’s statement than the verb. Maybe that is because of the society I grew up in and live in today. Maybe that’s because I’m desensitized to the word “nigga” because I can hear it in any given rap song by any given rap artist, regardless of their race or ethnicity. So I feel that if you’re going to have a problem with what Harrison said, you should have a problem with the actual expletive–not the “slur.”

The problem with today’s media is the power it has to publish anything it wants and push it directly to the masses within moments of breaking news. Today’s media revolves around a 24-hour live wire where stories are put out before completion, just to beat the others to the punch, and columns such as Bykofsky’s are written solely for clicks and shares instead of reputability. It’s all about riding the tidal wave that builds before it hits dry land.

Such is the case of Bykofsky’s column.

He knew that villainizing someone deemed a hero, or even a team of heroes, in the eyes of many would wage clicks-war against other news sources and authors and that, by incorporating the race card, he would prevail victorious. That doesn’t make you a respected author. All it simply makes you is a yet another bully hiding behind the safety of a computer screen.

Twitter Means Always Having to Say You’re Sorry

It’s over–March and all of its Madness has left the building and April has brought with it a new NCAA Champion. Whence 68 teams entered, only one can come out on top, and this year it was…not Kentucky, much to my chagrin. However, general consensus states that if Duke wins, nobody wins, so at least I can find solace in the fact that I’m not alone in my April Sadness.

While the former statement may be mostly speculation, Andrew Harrison proves that I am, in fact, not alone when it comes to my emotional distress.

During a post-game press conference held after the Wildcats lost their first and only game of the season to Wisconsin in the Final Four, Harrison was caught saying some things he probably should’ve kept to himself. After a member of the press asked a question regarding Wisconsin’s Frank Kaminsky to a teammate, Harrison muttered under his breath, “F— that n—a,” and it was caught on a hot mic.

Understandably, he was upset. This is the first loss the team experienced the entire season on their “pursuit of perfection,” and they were one game away from the national title. Within minutes, they were tossed from the court and up onto a podium with cameras flashing, questions being asked, and microphones put in front of their faces. I’m not saying this excuses his comment, and it definitely doesn’t excuse his language, but if you put a newly-engaged woman on a podium and ask her a million questions about her betrothed, it’s unlikely that she’ll give you a poor reaction. Same goes in the retrospect.

After realizing what he had said had been picked up, Harrison called Kaminsky and apologized for his comment. The two spoke, and Harrison wished him luck in the championship game against Duke.

But, since it was a public indiscretion, Harrison’s apologizing needn’t stop there, right?

He followed the phone call with a series of tweets, apologizing for his behavior and explaining what he had done to correct it.

There you have it, Frank Kaminskys of the world. An apology.

The Frank Kaminsky in question, when asked about what Harrison said during the press conference, only had this to say:

“He reached out. We talked about it. Over it. Nothing needs to be made out of it.”

If only this were a perfect word, Frank. If only…

Twitter Knows Who’s Going to Win the NCAA Tournament

If there are two things about me, personally, that you take away from Intercepted, I hope that it’s this:

1.)  I have been, am, and always will be a Kentucky Wildcats fan. #BBN
2.)  I commit more to Twitter than I do most relationships.

Oddly enough, these two distinctly different facts about myself have a common denominator:  they have loosely interpreted who the winner of the 2015 NCAA Championship will be.

“Twitter measured the teams mentioned in [the] context of winning and used this data to create a bracket style chart,” according to Growing Social Media. “
The methodology behind it all? “Twitter user predictions of who will win the March Madness tournament. Based on head-to-head comparison of the number of Tweets that include the given team’s keywords alongside keywords related to ‘winning;, measured from March 15, 2015 (6pm) – March 17, 2015 (12pm) (ET).”
Basically, Twitter looked at how many people tweeted things like “#BBN” or “L1C4” for two days after Selection Sunday and, based on that, derived who the winner would be come April 6.
twitter bracket

(Click for full resolution.)

So, if you’re wondering just how many tweets are being sent regarding teams playing in the NCAA, the answer is:  enough to crowdsource a bracket.

It Stays in the Family

Once upon a time, there was a father who had two daughters. The father was a basketball coach–a very important and prominent man to a school whose team made it into a very important and prominent tournament. People from all over the country tuned in to watch the father coach his team to victory against school after school, in hopes of winning it all and being named champions. The coach’s daughters were apparently not aware that their father is a very important and prominent man to a school whose team made it into a very important and prominent tournament, however. They are also not aware that you can’t publicly harass other teams’ players or that Twitter is public, no matter how private they may have believed it to be.

I’ve talked a lot about the West Virginia Mountaineers lately. I’ve talked about their fans, I’ve talked about their players, and I’ve skimmed the surface on their “press.” But, what I haven’t talked about is their coach, Bob Huggins. I don’t necessarily have a reason to talk poorly about the man–he coached his team into the NCAA Tournament straight to the Sweet 16, and ultimately ended his season with a 25-10 record after falling to an undefeated team. I wouldn’t have a reason to talk much about him now if it weren’t by association.

Huggins’ daughters, Jacqueline and Jenna, were cheering on dear, old dad’s team from Nationwide Arena as they took on the Maryland Terps in the round of 32 Monday night. However, they were doing much more than cheering on West Virginia.

“Hey #Maryland yell “airball” all you want at Wan, because at the end of the day …. Dez is still a f–kin RAPIST,” tweeted Jacque.

The tweets, although sent from Jacque’s private account, were screengrabbed and plastered all over the Internet.

Older sister, Jenna, also got in on the action, tweeting “NO MEANS NO DEZ!” along with a series of crying/laughing emojis, before following up with “”If your religious enough to wear a yamaka to a sporting event, you should be really concerned about ther rapist on your team @Dez32Wells”.

Jenna has since disabled her account.

The girls were referring to Maryland player Dez Wells, who was kicked off the Xavier basketball team in 2012 amidst rape allegations, which Wells denied, that were later rejected by a grand jury and dropped.

Like I mentioned earlier, I don’t have much of a reason to talk about Bob Huggins’ right now, but I’m talking about him. Student-athletes are places in the public eye–we see it, we think about it, we know it. Coaches are the same way, in some cases more often and more stringently. Coaches are responsible when it comes to their teams, yes; but it comes without question or debate that they’re responsible for their families, as well. Huggins’ daughters’ remarks represent themselves, but they also reflect on their father, the Mountaineers basketball team, and West Virginia University–and they represented all entities poorly.

How To Talk Smack: A Lesson from the University of Kentucky

“Salute them to getting to 36-0. But tomorrow they’re gonna be 36-1.”

It’s my own personal general rule of thumb to never talk smack before a game. Maybe that’s because I’m competitive by nature and would rather prove it on the court and then talk smack afterwards, or maybe it’s just because I was a PR major in undergrad–either way, I try hard to steer clear from it in the off chance things take a turn for the worse.

Daxter Miles, Jr. apparently thinks differently.

During his pre-game interview Wednesday, before taking on the undefeated Kentucky Wildcats in the Sweet 16 on Thursday, West Virginia Mountaineers’ Miles was feeling pretty good about his chances. Yeah, I guess that’s one way to put things.

“I don’t think they’ve played a team like us,” Miles continued. “To me, they don’t play hard. To me, they don’t play as hard as we play. Nobody is invincible, so their time will come, and I think we’re going to pull it out.”

Now, I’m all about having confidence. Confidence alone can take you pretty far in life; but, there comes a time where skill has to come in and take over, and it seems that skill missed the WVU bus to Quicken Loans Stadium Thursday night.

Kentucky defeated West Virginia 78-39. Had UK scored zero points in the second half, they still would have won by five. Daxter Miles, Jr. scored zero points, had zero assists, and just one rebound.

This is why you don’t talk smack before a game.

And this is why you wait to talk smack after the game:

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: student-athletes are put into a spotlight that paints an easy target on their backs for criticism. How they respond, whether they choose to or not, is totally up to the players. In my honest (and completely biased) opinion, I think these are some fine “how-to” examples.

#MarchMadness: Fans and Social Media


Oftentimes when social media is considered in the sense of athletics, we think of the organization or the athletes themselves. They are the accounts we follow, the pages we like, the hashtags we search. It is frequently overlooked, however, that athletes and their respective organizations are not the only groups with Twitter and Facebook accounts in the realm of athletics.

Fans get in on the action, too.

Cybersecurity firm Proofpoint analyzed the Facebook and Twitter pages of all 68 NCAA Tournament teams to determine who’s got the rowdiest fans.

10.  NC State
9.  Maryland8.  Wisconsin
7.  Michigan State
6.  Cincinnati
5.  Wichita State
4.  Louisville
3.  Iowa State
2.  North Carolina
1.  Kentucky

(Hint:  Last year’s winner in rowdiness was also last year’s winner of the NCAA Championship–Connecticut.)

It’s no secret that I’m a Kentucky fan. So, when Kentucky and West Virginia lined up to play against each other in the Sweet 16, words were said and tweets were tweeted. We’ll get into Daxter Miles, Jr., later, but in honor of #MarchMadness, let’s look at some tweets sent out into that magical land of mystery known as the Internet by my people–the fans.

To be fair, we also have Drake.

Do ya? Do you really want Kentucky? Are you absolutely positive about that?

And my personal favorite:

I make it my own personal rule of thumb to never talk smack before a game. It usually ends poorly and with my eating my words. But, fortunately for the Mountaineers, I hear crow is a delicacy over there in West Virginia.

Breaking the Rules Without Playing the Game

It is well-known that once the signature hits the dotted line, a student-athlete must follow the code of conduct set before them so long as they choose to participate in athletics and represent the school and program they attend. However, the rules fall into place well before a student steps onto campus for the first time–well before the set recruitment period set by the NCAA.

Take, for instance, Joker Phillips and the University of Florida Gators football team.

The former Gators wide receivers coach and recruiting coordinator was a main focus in an NCAA investigation that looked into whether or not he was recruiting during a dead period–a time during which the NCAA prohibits any type of recruiting contact between coaches and prospective athletes.

Before the former coach talked with the prospect, he was notified by a recruiting service reporter that the prospect would be waiting outside of his high school when they arrived. Once the former coach was at the high school, he spoke with the prospect, let him know the school wanted the prospect to be a part of their football program and got the prospect’s social media contact information.

The panel determined the former coach’s contact with the prospect was a Level II violation because it was not inadvertent and provided more than a minimal recruiting advantage. Specifically, the former coach was able to get the prospect’s contact information at a time when coaches who were following the rules were unable to have the same level of contact.

Social media contact information.  Long gone are the days of secret meetings and private phone calls. With social media a part of the culture of the 21st century, it is subsequently a part of the culture of recruitment. With that said, it is more and more difficult with each passing year to properly monitor not only recruits, but coaches as well.

“…the school immediately suspended Phillips — he resigned a short time later — and ended its recruitment of the unnamed prospect, the NCAA decided that no further punishment was warranted.”

The incident ultimately lost a student a potential scholarship to play for the University of Florida and lost a coach his position. And, while there may be more to the entire investigation than swapping Twitter handles, it is something that is sure to become more of a problem in the future. With multiple platforms and various ways of connecting privately without anyone knowing, I believe that this won’t be the last time we hear of such investigations.