Notre Dame contemplates very strict Twitter Policy

Notre Dame contemplates very strict Twitter Policy

Twitter is one of the greatest inventions ever for a sportswriter.

It’s a chance to obtain legitimate quotes from players and coaches without actually being at the stadium or even having a press credential. And sometimes the quotes are much more interesting than what you hear on gameday, because they haven’t been filtered by Public Relations reps or Sports Information Department officials.

But for the players, trouble can arise.

This past week, Fighting Irish defensive end Louis Nix (@IrishChocolate9) posted a tweet saying he may leave Notre Dame and not return. That tweet caused a great deal of distraction for Coach Brian Kelly and his team, and now the coach contemplates a new and stricter policy on what he deems “inappropriate” social media posts.

From Friday’s Ft. Wayne News Sentinel:

“Most teams are going to get to the level where it is a one-strike policy,” Kelly said. “You make a mistake, then you are off (social media).”

Kelly said earlier this week that he has discussed the matter of inappropriate postings with the team Unity Council and will soon “run it through the team” in regards to implementing a policy.

“We’re not going to go in there and ban it for everybody,” Kelly said. “But I think that we are at that point where we are probably going to go with the one strike. You get one shot and if you make a mistake with it, something is inappropriate, then we are probably going to deal with it.”

Fair enough. I think this policy could work, but if you’re going to initiate a policy that seems harsh, even Draconian to the concept of free speech then the ground rules should clearly be laid out. The players should all know what’s over the line and what’s not. Last year, star linebacker Manti Te’o (@MTeo_5) gained national attention for his “playing for my bros and that’s it!” tweet.

At Saturday’s Blue-Gold Spring Game, I asked the team’s most visible, and high-profile players how they would define it. I started with last year’s starting quarterback (and possibly this year’s QB1) Tommy Rees, who actually isn’t on Twitter.

“Obviously guys know where the line is and they make sure not to cross it,” Rees responded.

Then I spoke with Andrew Hendrix, the signal caller who might take Rees’ job this fall, after seeing extensive playing time in last year’s Champs Sports Bowl. You can find him (@NDHendy12)

“You really just got to use your brain and tweet positive things,” Hendrix said.

“Obviously, you got to keep team business out of it, but it’s a good way to connect with the fans, and hopefully we can do a better job with it because it’s fun to tweet and as long as we keep it under control, it will be a good resource to have.”

And then I asked Theo Riddick, a WR/RB who figures to be a prominent part of the offense this fall. He doesn’t tweet that often, and his account (@riddick6) is protected. He told me the players know what’s wrong to say on Twitter.

“The policy in itself- you just can’t say stupid things,” Riddick answered.

Finally Tyler Eifert, who figures to be the offense’s main weapon this fall, and potentially a top 15-25 NFL Draft pick in 2013. You can find him at (@EiferTy80)

“You just got to be smart. We know what’s going to get people’s attention and stir things up, it’s just kind of obvious,” he said.

It’s more common sense than a stated/written policy.

“There’s no swearing, no derogatory comments toward the program and things like that. There’s no reason to be negative on Twitter, if you’ve got something negative, just don’t say it- don’t put it out there,” Eifert elaborated.

It will be interesting to see if they do, officially go with a “one-strike policy,” and like Kelly said, the policy catches on with other teams. The one-strike idea might be a way for sports teams to find the happy medium with Twitter. Everyone still has access, but it’s tough enough to keep the players from saying the things coaches don’t want them to say.

Paul M. Banks is CEO of The Sports, an official Google News site generating millions of unique visitors. He’s also a regular contributor to Chicago Now, Walter, Yardbarker, MSN and Fox Sports

A Fulbright scholar and MBA, Banks has appeared on live radio all over the world; and he’s a member of the Football Writers Association of America, U.S. Basketball Writers Association, and Society of Professional Journalists. The President of the United States follows him on Twitter (@Paul_M_BanksTSB) You should too.

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