North Carolina, NCAA address monitoring social media
Given the role social networking played in North Carolina’s football infractions, both the university and the NCAA addressed the difficulties involved in monitoring an athlete’s online activities.
The NCAA announced Monday that North Carolina’s football program is banned from a bowl game in 2012 and must forfeit 15 scholarships over a three-year period. The NCAA investigation found the football program had committed nine major violations involving academic fraud, improper benefits and former assistant coach John Blake acting as an agent.
As a result, the university updated its guidelines for athletes. Athletes are notified that at least one coach or administrator has been assigned to monitor sites regularly, evaluating postings that identify possible improper extra benefits or agent-related activities. The policy specifies a range of sanctions for violations, including the loss of scholarship and dismissal from the team.
UNC athletics director Bubba Cunningham said monitoring social media is difficult given its changing nature.
“As all these cases transpire, there’s new findings and new things you have to try to prevent in the future,” Cunningham said in a news media teleconference.
According to the NCAA report, the school failed to “consistently monitor the social networking activity of its student-athletes.” The report stated that in one instance an athlete’s site would have alerted the school to certain violations in dealings with agents and runners.
The report said, “While we do not impose an absolute duty upon member institutions to regularly monitor such sites, the duty to do so may arise as part of an institution’s heightened awareness when it has or should have a reasonable suspicion of rules violations.”
Britton Banowsky, commissioner of Conference USA and chair of the committee on infractions, said, “To expect the university to monitor social networking sites of all their student athletes is too much.”
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