Social networking in the ACC

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

If you check the front of our college football page, you'll notice ESPN.com has done a series of social networking stories this week. I caught up with former FSU safety Myron Rolle for the last story, and he's in Orlando training for the 2010 NFL draft. He said he's leaving Sept. 26 for England.

Guess how I caught up with him? Through Facebook, of course.

On the subject of social networking, Rolle told me that somebody had set up fake MySpace pages for former quarterback Drew Weatherford and former cornerback Tony Carter.

"Honestly it wasn't Tony or Drew, and it wasn't coming from them and it was hurting them a little bit," Rolle said. "People would come up to them in person and say, 'Hey, I saw your message on MySpace,' and Drew would say, 'I don't even have a MySpace.' That right there was a little weird, but Florida State would help us with that."

That's one of the issues I didn't get to address in the story, but it's another major concern of athletic departments. Sportsin140.com is a Web site that is working to validate public profiles on Twitter. Generally speaking, the ACC -- like every other BCS conference -- doesn't have a conference-wide policy for athletes' use of these sites. Mostly, it's up to the individual coaches, compliance offices, student services and sports information directors to warn the athletes about the potential dangers of the sites.

"We don't have a particular policy in place, but we've tried to inform our student athletes to be very aware of what they're doing and to try to understand they need to represent themselves and their families and their universities in the appropriate fashion," said Virginia Tech athletic director Jim Weaver. "There are always things that come up that you have to adapt to and be aware of and try to make sure your young people are cognizant of."

Boston College athletic director Gene DeFilippo deals with this subject at the first coaches' meeting of the year and at several more throughout the course of the year. BC does have a policy that prohibits student-athletes from posting photos that are racy, or depict them in BC uniform in any setting other than in athletics competition or would put them in a compromising position (such as drinking alcohol, partying, etc.).

Clemson sports information director Tim Bourret had a meeting with the football team and gave them a basic rule about their posts back in April:

"If your mother would be embarrassed to read this post as a headline in USA Today, then don't post it it. That goes for Facebook writing and picture posting."

Not enough schools in the ACC are embracing it, though. The ACC as a conference has a strong presence on Facebook and Twitter, but Georgia Tech is one of the few member schools that understands the publicity angle.

The sports information office has encouraged the head coaches to Twitter and provides links to those Twitter pages on their Web site. Georgia Tech "markets" its official GTAthletics Twitter page. Sports information director Dean Buchan tells me that some of the Jackets Twitter, but they are more into Facebook. However, Jonathan Dwyer will launch his Twitter page as soon as Friday.

Me? I'm still trying to figure out why people care so much when somebody else sneezes. If I were to honestly update my Twitter page, it would say little other than "blogging. Still blogging. Running. Eating. Blogging."