Athletes careful on social media, but not tracked


“Porn,” “beer pong,” “doobie,” “fight” and “robbery” are all words that would probably catch your eye when scrolling through Facebook or Twitter news feeds, especially if they were posted by a college athlete.

This is also what catches the eye of officials at NCAA local Division I schools. The University of Kentucky and University of Louisville conduct heavy monitoring of athletes on social media platforms, according to Mashable reporter Sam Laird.

Scott Eaton, Northern Kentucky University director of athletics, said the university has a policy regarding public media and social networks that all athletes are required to sign each year. In the guidelines, athletes are encouraged to protect themselves by maintaining a positive self image they can be proud of years from now, and are warned to be careful how much identifying information they publish online.

As players are expected to uphold the reputation and values of the university, prohibited content includes, but is not limited to, demeaning statements or threats, incriminating photos and derogatory language.

Ernest Watson, a senior integrative studies major on the men’s basketball team, said, “To a certain extent, it does affect what I post, but I have to stick within my own morals and ethics as well, and I know what not to post.”

Watson said he believes going through another website to track an athlete is a “bit too extreme,” but he stressed that players need to watch what they are doing online.
“People are always looking up to you,” Watson said.

Though it has been suggested the Mashable Entertainment’s article that the tracking of social media is a direct First Amendment violation, Eaton said the purpose is protecting the welfare of the athletes and keeping them safe.

“We’re very fortunate,” Eaton said. “I think that our coaches do an outstanding job of recruiting, not only quality student athletes, but quality people to represent our institution. When we talk to our student athletes at the beginning of the year about social media responsibilities and things of that nature, they’re very respectful, and they really do understand and they appreciate the opportunity that they’re given here at NKU.”

With no plans to broaden social media restrictions or begin tracking social media platforms, NKU athletes are free to post as they please, just as long as they remember basic ethics before hitting send.