When it’s game time, brands can be found just about everywhere on a college athlete. Whether it’s the Wisconsin basketball team decked out in Adidas or Auburn traveling to Atlanta last year to play in the Chick-fil-A bowl, Division I athletes are representing more than just their school colors. For this reason, their actions are scrutinized. Not just as student athletes, but as representations of a university and a brand.
As college stars emerge, their fan influence grows stronger. With such influence comes a responsibility critical to the success of an athlete’s team and team sponsors. When a college football player becomes a household name, his Twitter following has the potential to grow to celebrity status. At this point, should fans and brands be excited for the opportunity, or live in fear of that inevitable tweet that will tarnish the reputation of the player, the school, and in turn, any affiliated brands?
Many schools feared the worst, and implemented a system to monitor player’s Twitter accounts. This proactive action was met with opposition and led some states, including California and Maryland, to propose a bill that would ban universities from supervising student social media activity. There’s growing fear from schools and coaches that players tweets may put them in precarious positions:
“Anything they publish, anything they put out there, if it’s not good, it’s going to come back to haunt them. Not only from just their own personal self, but if it’s bad, it’s something I’ll have to react to and I don’t really want to do that. Censorship is not a big thing with me. I think players have to learn what they can do and what they can’t do and what they can say and can’t say. If they put something out there that’s not good, there’s going to be repercussions from it. They have to know that.’’ –Jim Boheim, Head Coach, Syracuse Basketball