Peterson: Hey, recruits, what you tweet may cost you a scholarship
AMES, Ia. — You’re a high school football recruit. Big-name colleges want you. Some, like Iowa State, have even offered you a scholarship.
You’re boastful. You live your life on social media. You’re carefree in your messages. It’s Twitter, you say. #NothingIsOffLimits
You pound out words with your thumbs that don’t offend you or your friends. But maybe they’re offensive to others.
Like the Iowa State football staff that offered you a scholarship for 2018.
Like the Iowa State football staff that just pulled your offer.
(And yes, this has happened.)
Recruits: We just rejected a recruit due to his tweet. Reminder don't cuss, use the N-Word, middle finger or disrespect women on twitter!!!
That’s a tweet this week from Iowa State cornerbacks coach D.K. McDonald. It’s a tweet that should be in clear vision of everyone, not just high school sports stars who may not have yet realized that these days, the college vetting process includes exhaustive research into someone’s social media history.
Even if you’re a four- or five-star recruit, it’s happening. It’s happening if you’re a one-star guy. It's happening if you're a no-star player wanting to join a team as a walk-on.
“From our angle, it’s another resource to see if recruits fit what we’re looking for,” Iowa State coach Matt Campbell said Thursday. “If that kid’s doing stuff like that now, who knows what’s going to happen when he gets to campus?”
In many cases, there’s no right or wrong. What’s offensive to some people is acceptable to others. Race, religion, culture, zip code — there’s no over-arching playbook that I’ve seen or read.
It’s personal preference. But in this instance, it meant Iowa State’s no longer recruiting this player whose name, nationality, place of birth and age doesn’t really matter right now.
“You’re never 100 percent right, anyway,” Campbell told me, referring to the recruiting process, “but if you can be out in front of some things in terms of what you do now ... then you’ve got a fighting chance in the end.”
Whether someone actually shows moral character by words they tweet — that’s in the eyes of the employer. Or, in this instance, the recruiter.
“In today’s recruiting world, there’s Twitter and other (Internet) resources that kids use,” Campbell said. “They’re putting their lives out there for everyone to see.”
Raise your hand if you’re not at least somewhat social media-savvy. And remember, young kids attend college sporting events, too. Kids actively engage in social media. Kids, rightly or wrongly, sometimes look up to the college football players they’ll watch between September and January.
“When you take over a program like we are, you really better be sure that everything looks right and feels right,” Campbell said. “We look back at Twitter and Instagram. Anything we can get our hands on, we’ll work hard to look at. It’s another piece of information that gives you a chance to make the best decisions.”
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