U-M seminars target Twitter pitfalls
ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- A Michigan spokesman said Thursday that the school puts its student-athletes through social media seminars that try to educate them in regards to what is or is not acceptable on social-media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter.
The Wolverines football program notified its compliance department Wednesday of a possible secondary NCAA violation regarding tweets sent to a prospective student-athlete. Roy Roundtree and Kenny Demens posted congratulatory messages on their Twitter accounts to linebacker Mike McCray of Trotwood-Madison High in Ohio upon his commitment to Michigan.
NCAA bylaw 13.10.2 regarding "Comments Before Signing" states, in part, that "the institution is precluded from commenting in any manner as to the likelihood of the prospective student-athlete's signing with that institution." Signing day for football isn't until Feb. 6, 2013.
The tweets might constitute a secondary violation, although Roundtree's tweet could be deemed permissible. The wide receiver also hails from Trotwood, and Mike McCray told WolverineNation he has known Roundtree since McCray was in the seventh grade. It's possible Roundtree's prior relationship with McCray, before McCray was considered a "prospect," means he's free to communicate with him.
"We do a media training session with all of our student athletes in all of our sports," said Dave Ablauf, Michigan's associate athletic director of public and media relations. "It's just something that we try to do, and we try to be proactive in, but we also know that it's an evolving technology. We try to stay ahead of it."
Former Wolverines tight end Kevin Koger said he remembered the social media seminar that was given during football camp last fall, saying each player was advised to make his Twitter account private, so he could control who viewed his tweets. However, both Demens' and Roundtree's accounts are public.
"They made it clear we can't comment about a recruit that's still in high school," Koger said. "But I know Roundtree has a relationship with the kid, and they're really good friends, and he meant no harm. He just wanted to congratulate one of his friends. I'm positive if [McCray] would've committed to Ohio, [Roundtree] would've sent out the same tweet to the kid."
Mike McCray Sr., 47, said he received about 10 texts from friends when news broke of the Michigan players' tweets to his son. McCray was a linebacker at Ohio State in the 1980s.
"It's very minor, from my understanding," said McCray, who is an assistant principal at Trotwood-Madison. "All through the process my wife and I have told Mike to watch what he says on Facebook and Twitter. We've told him to manage it the best he can and make sure he's representing himself and his family values well."
McCray Sr. says it's much tougher on a prospect and his parents these days than when he was being recruited by Earle Bruce.
"People can contact my son directly on his Facebook page or cell phone, and I don't even know what's taking place," McCray said. "He'll get a call at baseball practice, and a week later I'll tell him I saw a story on the Web somewhere.
"When I was going through it, they had to call the house. There was no other way."
Chantel Jennings covers University of Michigan sports for WolverineNation. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @chanteljennings.
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