Facebook and Twitter are enormously popular with many college students, including student athletes. Not all of them use these media wisely, though, and some schools are looking at ways of limiting or at least monitoring student posts.
That monitoring has just become much more systematic at Villanova University, which has hired the firm VarsityMonitor to follow the social media usage of all its student athletes. According to the company website, they “monitor the social media interaction of athletes for questionable conduct that could negatively affect their athletic availability, hurt their future career and sponsorship opportunities and damage the brand of their team, league and institution.”
All Villanova athletes recently received an e-mail instructing them to add VarsityMonitor as a Facebook “friend” to enable this monitoring. No such permission is needed on public Twitter accounts.
The move is expected to add muscle to the ban on use of social media by Villanova basketball players during the season. That ban, endorsed by head coach Jay Wright, is now in its second year.
“Given the extent of social media use, most college athletic programs across the country now monitor social networking in some way, either formally or informally. Our objective is to protect our student-athletes and athletic programs with respect to image, rules and safety, and educate them about both the benefits and negative implications of social media,” said Villanova's director of athletics, Vince Nicastro, in a statement.