Social Media and College Athletic Scholarship


So, you want to get an NCAA athletic scholarship. It’s a great goal. Show me a young athlete who doesn’t.

ncaaYou don’t need us to tell you how to do it. There are a lot of resources at your disposal – you can research it online as you are doing now, buy a book, ask someone who has done it or one of your coaches, or hire a consultant.

Let’s instead focus on how not to get a scholarship. It’s becoming increasingly clear if you’re listening to NCAA coaches and officials, and social media has a lot to do with it. To wit:

“I can’t publicly say, ‘Hey, we dropped this guy.’ But… we [dropped] one kid last year because of what he had on social media. He had some stuff on social media that we didn’t like. We keep an eye on all that.”

Mark Richt, Georgia Football Coach

They keep an eye on all that – this from a big time coach at a big time college. Is it only the premiere BCS programs that are watching? No.

“Recently, ODU stopped recruiting a quarterback because it didn’t like what it found on his Facebook profile. There was vulgar language, some pictures with the player posing with his tongue out. “He looked like Miley Cyrus,” Whitcomb said. “That can’t be the face of your team (as a QB).”

Ron Whitcomb, Old Dominion U. Asst. Football Coach

No offense to ODU, but they’re hardly a perennial top 10 team. They are worried about player image – the “face of their team”. Ask yourself, based on your social media profiles, will they want you to be the face of their team.

We have found racist comments on Twitter from kids, and as a result dropped contact. We did not think that train of thought was a good fit for our team, or a good fit for Bates College.  We have also seen homophobic conversations laid out publicly on Twitter, and dropped contact with potential recruits over it.”

Bates College soccer coach, Stewart Flaherty

Bates College. Soccer. Even at a smallish school and with a more minor sport, your online identity is an issue. They are looking for signs of racism, homophobic comments and who knows what else.

“If there are photos popping up of you at parties smoking or drinking or whatever when you’re in high school, then I have to be pretty concerned about what you’re going to do when you’re in college. I’m just looking for those red flags that’ll tell me this might be a kid that is going to have some issues, either interacting with the team, taking direction, staying on-task.”

Robb Munro, track and cross country coach at SUNY-Delhi

Interesting. Another small school coach is watching, in this case evaluating how what you do at parties will impact your performance on the team. It matters.

“We now also watch the social media of the players we’re recruiting. If there’s any chance of a red flag we put together a several pages of pictures and copy of players… I know in the NFL they’ve really started to do it…”

Urban Meyer, Ohio State Football Coach

Urban Meyer is a legend. If checking social media on recruits is good enough for the NFL, it’s good enough for him, his staff and Ohio State.

“Dropped another prospect this AM due to his social media presence…Actually glad I got to see the ‘real’ person before we offered him. If a guy makes the decision to post or RT stuff that degrades women, references drug use or cyber-bullying crap then I can make the decision to drop them.”

Herb Hand, Penn State Offensive Line Coach

Hmm. Your parents and coaches can tell Coach Hand what a fine person you are until they’re blue in the face. He views what he sees posted online as “the real you”.

“It’s really honestly [more] disturbing seeing how often a kid will post/tweet out messages than the actual content. Some kids, I swear never put their phones down. I know you have different programs where you can load up posts, but we know the difference right away. Does this kid ever study?”

Unnamed Big Ten Recruiting Coordinator

Last but not least, it’s not just the content of your posts, but also how often you are posting. It can speak to your dedication to your craft, or lack thereof.

Lots of teens view their social media posts as private thoughts, even when their accounts are public – “off the record” as it were. They are not off the record, if you’re using a public account or if your post gets redistributed by one of your friends.

The days of social media being a secondary consideration are behind us. Make sure that your online image is front and center in your efforts to present your best self to recruiters and coaches.


Contact ThirdParent any time for help and resources for monitoring child and teen internet activity.

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