In 2011, D.J. Gardner, then a Mississippi State University basketball player, tweeted about being redshirted his freshman year. He was kicked off the team.
“These b***es tried to f**k me over.. That’s y I red shirted .. But I wish my homies a great as* season.. I don’t even know y I’m still here”
The next year, Cardale Jones from Ohio State University made headlines when he tweeted that he didn’t understand why there was so much focus on academics for student-athletes. Jones was drafted in 2016, but he ultimately finished his degree.
— Cardale Jones (@Cardale7_) May 4, 2017
These are just two examples of the trouble student-athletes can face if their not careful about what they post on social media.
At Michigan State University, student-athletes are told that they will held to a standard for their behavior on social media. Training for student-athletes includes reminders that they are seen as public figures, watched by the public whether they’re on social media, going to the store or walking to class.
“We try to speak to all the student-athletes about the pros and cons of social media,” said Kara Fisher, assistant director of athletic communications at Michigan State. “Social media is always ever present and is important for the branding of a student athlete.
“But we try to keep in mind that not only it is the brand of the student athlete but it’s also the brand of Michigan State.”
Felton Davis III, a junior football player at Michigan State, said he hasn’t run into problems with his own social media accounts, but he knows teammates who have.
“My friend and teammate posted a picture of all of us in it and was told to delete it because it was not showing character of a student-athlete at MSU and didn’t represented our team and program in the best manner,” Davis said.
“We have a policy because as a football player you are held to a higher standard than regular students. Some things just aren’t acceptable. We can post what we want but we just have to think about how it will look for anyone who views it.”
Lea Mitchell, a freshman gymnast at Michigan State, said team members are told not to post anything illegal or anything that could hurt the team. They’re also told they can’t block the coaching staff.
“They would first ask the person to take it down, but if you already had the one and only warning, you could be suspended from the team for however long they find it necessary,” Mitchell said.
She said the team rule is pretty simple to follow: “Don’t post anything you wouldn’t want your parents to see.”