Athletes taught professionalism on social media

Some universities, including University of Kentucky and University of Louisville, have begun monitoring student athletes’ social media accounts to protect the reputations of the school and athletes.

The athletic department at UNA also has policies in place regarding athletes’ use of social media which vary between the athletic departments.

“We rely on each sports program to establish the policy for their program,” said Mark Linder, athletic director for UNA. “If we are notified that they have embarrassed the program, we address them immediately.”

When each year starts, the department speaks with athletes about being careful on social media.

“We meet with every student athlete at the beginning of each year,” Linder said. “Of the topics discussed, we speak about our responsibility to the university to be solid citizens. This includes being aware of our conduct on social media platforms.”

Linder said some of the athletic departments have personal accounts which follow each of the athletes to ensure nothing that would embarrass the student or the school is posted.

Coach Graham Winkworth said the women’s soccer department does not employ monitoring devices on the UNA soccer players.

“I’m pretty trusting as a coach,” Winkworth said. “If one of my players were doing something inappropriate, it would get back to me without me having to monitor it directly. I just don’t want to go too deep into searching for things, because I think that is starting to invade their private lives a little bit, and also gives the impression that I don’t trust the girls.”

Terry Fowler, head coach of UNA’s women’s basketball, has a different opinion regarding the monitoring of athletes’ social media.

“I’m in agreement with what most universities are doing as far as monitoring student athletes’ social media,” Fowler said. “I feel it is a way to protect them a little. I saw a ‘60 Minutes’ where a Human Resource Director tore up every student’s resume and immediately starting Googling their names to find out anything he wanted to.

“That’s where we are headed as far as the future of employing people and what you’ve done on social media could come back to haunt you. I just ask them to be responsible and think before pressing Send.”

Winkworth said he did have to warn a girl a few years ago about an inappropriate post but has not needed to punish any of the soccer players for anything serious. Linder, however, said two individuals have been eliminated from athletics due to social media use.