With the NCAA football season under way, parents who are paying attention will have noticed that the number of high profile coaches who are admitting to checking recruits’ and existing players’ social media posts has increased markedly.
An article this week at the online Democrat & Chronicle details the social media thinking and process of Ron Whitcomb Jr., Assistant Coach of the Old Dominion University football team, who checks out prospects online before beginning the recruiting process:
“You’ve got to dig through all the avenues you can,” said Whitcomb, 30, who is ODU’s recruiting coordinator.
He’ll check for a Facebook profile, Twitter and now Instagram — all tools he may later use to keep in touch with the player. 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).”
Another “turn-off,” Whitcomb said, was finding a player posted too often for ODU’s taste. “Sixteen posts a day? He was on social media too much,” he said. “Is he spending enough time on important stuff?”
Anything that’s racially insensitive or sexist is also a red flag, he said. Old Dominion, he said, is probably one of about 10 college football teams that doesn’t allow its players to post on Twitter.
Whitcomb doesn’t want to come off as “holier than thou,” he said, but he wants teens to know these are factors recruiters watch when evaluating a player’s character.
Notice that Whitcomb does not say that these are bad kids; rather that the things they are posting do not fit with ODU’s image or vision for their school and football program. You might be thinking that boys will be boys, and that goofy pictures with a tongue sticking out, some profanity or multiple social media posts in a day are no big deal. It turns out that they are, or can be, depending on the program.
With the ThirdParent program, we give parents a look at what coaches will see before the coaches get a chance to review it. If you haven’t been paying close attention to what your teen is posting online, and most parents aren’t, we can get you up to speed in a matter of weeks.
Contact ThirdParent any time for help and resources for monitoring child and teen internet activity.