The NCAA Doesn’t Have a Social Media Policy for Athletes

ncaaThat’s not necessarily a good thing.

Parents of NCAA athletes – those currently playing and high schoolers who are hopeful – know there are a lot of ways that a young athlete can trip himself (or herself) up on the road to an athletic scholarship or after one has been granted – bad grades, injuries, general performance issues, conduct off the field, and in today’s day and age, what he does online.

It’s no secret that the NCAA has a strict set of guidelines for how coaches and their staff can use social media to interact with recruits. From the University of Oregon recruiting handbook:



Because of, among other issues, varying state privacy laws, the NCAA has declined to scope out rules for monitoring existing NCAA players, while at the same time insisting that colleges do so. The law department at the University of Pittsburg studied the issue of monitoring student athletes’ online activity way back in 2011, and drew the following conclusion:

“While the NCAA’s bylaws regarding member institution conduct indirectly impacts social media oversight, the NCAA’s lack of a social media monitoring policy creates uncertainty as to how member institutions should deal with potential violations of a non-existing policy. Coupled with concerns about their public image, tort liability, and their student-athletes’ safety, NCAA member institutions must develop a social media monitoring policy that does not infringe on constitutional free speech rights or more specific social media privacy laws. Ultimately, monitoring publicly available social media might be the safest and the best way to protect the institutions’ interests without violating their student-athletes’ legal rights.”

So, colleges must monitor student athletes’ social media, without clear guidelines as to what is taboo. This creates a lot of gray area for students about what is permissible, and a clear message that it is better to be safe than story. Whether you’re enjoying the benefits of a coveted scholarship, or hoping to get one, it is vital to keep everything you post online absolutely clean and proper.

Not all schools have a written policy for social media use by athletes, but for those who do, the bar is high. At Indiana University:

“(Student-athletes)  are expected to exhibit a higher standard of behavior and maturity than might be displayed by other students, staff, and faculty. They should always avoid conduct that could be perceived as improper or unfitting of a University representative.”

If you’re unsure about your online profile and activity, and want a confidential, impartial evaluation, ThirdParent can help. Our audit and monitoring services (you can sign up today) can prevent unfortunate outcomes and give players and parents peace of mind about one of the variables that they can control.


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

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