Every third Thursday of each month, Idaho Director of Athletics Dr. Rob Spear will post a new blog entry directed towards Vandal fans. Dr. Spear will use these monthly communiqués to set the record straight and talk to you – Vandal to Vandal..
An archive of previous blog entries can be accessed here.
In recent years, Facebook, MySpace, Twitter and other social networking sites have increased in popularity and are used by the majority of student‐athletes at higher education institutions.
It is no different at the University of Idaho where the recent explosion of social networking continues to impact Athletic Departments across the country. Not only does this challenge your marketing approach to students and young adults but it also requires Athletic Departments to adopt policies for student-athletes and their use of these social networking tools.
Student-athletes must realize playing and competing for their respective schools is a privilege not a right. Student‐athletes are highly visible members in any community where they live and are viewed as role models. As community and school leaders, student-athletes have the responsibility to portray themselves, their team and their school in a positive manner at all times.
Student-athletes must realize third parties - including the media, faculty, future employers and NCAA officials, can access their profiles easily and view all personal information. This includes all pictures, videos, comments and posters. Any inappropriate material found by third parties affects the perception of the student-athlete, the athletic department and the university. Obviously, this can be detrimental to a student‐athlete's future employment options.
At the University of Idaho, we have adopted a policy for the use of these social networking tools. While we want to respect the privacy of our student-athletes it is important for them to:
- 1. Set their security settings so only their friends can view their profile.
- 2. Not post email, home address, local address, telephone number(s), or other personal information as it could lead to unwanted attention, stalking, identity theft, etc.
- 3. Be aware of who they add as friends to their site - many people are looking to take advantage of student‐athletes or to seek connection with student‐athletes.
- 4. Consider how the above behaviors can be reflected in all Facebook applications.
Back in "the old days" we all had photo albums but these photo albums were not available for everyone in the world to see! Today, if it is on-line it is fair game for everyone to view. It is important our student-athletes understand inappropriate and offensive behaviors concerning participation in online communities will not be tolerated. Specifically, our policy states any depictions or presentations of the following are inappropriate and will be subject to penalties determined by the athletics department, which can include suspension and dismissal from their athletic team:
- 1. Posting photos, videos, comments or posters showing the personal use of alcohol, tobacco, eg., no holding cups, cans, shot glasses, etc.
- 2. Posting photos, videos and comments that are of a sexual nature. This includes links to websites of a pornographic nature and other inappropriate material.
- 3. Posting pictures, videos, comments or posters that condone drug-related activity. This includes but is not limited to images that portray the personal use of marijuana and/or drug paraphernalia.
- 4. Using inappropriate or offensive language in all comments, videos and other postings. This includes threats of violence and derogatory comments against race and/or gender.
- 5. Postings of comments, videos or posters degrading coaches or other athletic department personnel.
Social networking is here to stay and we all need to be proactive and find ways to utilize this phenomenon to our advantage.