The NCAA's Taming of Twitter

UT fans line up for Twitter lessons from a football staffer. Getty Images

Last week, the NCAA told us college coaches were not allowed to @reply anyone on Twitter. Direct messaging was the only channel of communication allowed through the service.

Their reasoning? The ruling falls in line with the current NCAA electronic transmission guidelines: direct messaging is seen as e-mailing, which is permissible for coaches.

But those electronic transmission guidelines only apply to recruits. Coaches are allowed to use the messaging/e-mail functions on social networks to contact potential players, but more public communication, such as writing on a recruit's Facebook wall is impermissible. So why was the NCAA extending this to the common fan as well? If coaches weren't allowed to @reply with fans or the average Twitter users on their public Twitter page, it's not much of a leap to say the NCAA was telling coaches they couldn't communicate with fans in any public medium.

After hearing from a source in a major university's compliance office, we were left with conflicting stories.

The compliance officer said coaches were allowed to @reply on Twitter, just not to recruits. This made more sense. But why then, do you rarely, if ever, see coaches chattering back and forth with fans on Twitter? It's because compliance officers have strongly recommended coaches don't do that. And here's why: You don't know who's behind the keyboard. Just ask Lane Kiffin, who didn't even write the tweet that got Tennessee back in the headlines this week. There's no way to monitor just who is and who isn't a recruit by the name on someone's account, and the logistics of having to respond to hundreds of replies would be a nightmare for coaches. It makes more sense just to leave it alone.

And remember this, too: Twitter users can only direct messages to each other if there is a mutual follow. So unless a coach is following a recruit and vice versa, direct messaging won't come into play through their official accounts.

When we called the NCAA back and presented this information, they changed their tune:

"In Division I, there are no specific NCAA restrictions to what kind of interaction a coach can have with a fan (on Twitter)," said Cameron Schuh, Associate Director of Public and Media Relations for the NCAA. "With that being said, that kind of interaction would fall under institutional discretion and would hopefully be closely monitored by the school and the coach."

Seems to align perfectly with what the compliance officer told us. So, are any coaches actually replying? Yes, they are. One recent example: USC head football coach Pete Carroll had a back and forth with the official Lakers Twitter account last week. (About as safe as it comes when discerning whether or not an account is a potential recruiting hazard for a coach.)

So what does this show? It shows that these bylaws are still being sorted out as they apply to new mediums such as Twitter, and the NCAA is oftentimes unsure of just how to enact them.

For now, it seems everything is sorted out.

Elsewhere …

All the controversy around Barack Obama's commencement speech at Notre Dame let another more minor one slip through: He spoke at Arizona State University on May 13, and the school did not provide him with an honorary degree.

Washington Wizard Brendan Haywood did not agree with this one bit.

"I read the list of other speakers who've spoken at ASU's past graduations and received degrees and was even more shocked," he wrote. "They've given out these degrees to newspaper publishers, successful movie directors and even generous donors. Another person who was awarded an honorary degree was Jerry Colangelo, owner of the Phoenix Suns and the person who helped return USA Basketball back to prominence (and this was before he started working with USA Basketball). No offense to Mr. Colangelo but I don't think you can compare what he's done (or many of the others who've spoken have done) with what Obama has accomplished so far.

"ASU's excuse for denying Obama's honorary degree was because his 'body of work is yet to come.' Someone needs to step up and take responsibility for the real reason why Obama was denied the degree. Maybe it was because Arizona is John McCain's state or because McCain has donated a lot of money to the school or even because it's a Republican state. Whatever the real reason is, don't lie and tell us that it because Obama isn't good enough. That's like saying LeBron James isn't good enough to play on your REC league team or that Yao Ming isn't tall enough to play on your squad!"

Easy, Brendan. Easy.


When your blog gets big time, the fan mail starts coming from all angles. Club Trillion founder and Ohio State benchwarmer Mark Titus answered some of it in his latest entry.

On what one fan should play at his wedding, here's how Titus thinks he should start it off:

"You start off the reception with your wife and you on opposite sides of the room," he writes. "Cue Kenny Loggins' 'Meet Me Halfway.' You guys start walking toward each other and literally meet halfway on the dance floor and share your first dance.

"Next, you include all the guests because, let's be honest, they really don't want to watch you and your wife dance together all night. That's why you need to go with a song that has a dance that corresponds with it. Some would go with the Electric Slide or the Cupid Shuffle, but you should go with the 'Cha-Cha Slide Part 2' only to see how people interpret the instructions to 'Charlie Brown.' Nobody could possibly know what they are being asked to do."

The rest of Titus's play list can be found here.