College administrators and coaches can’t be pleased to see their athletes indiscriminately posting photos on Facebook, especially after social-networking sagas embroiled squads at Elon and Northwestern Universities. But what’s a campus official to do? Tell athletes to stay off the site?
It sounds draconian, but that’s exactly what Kent State University is trying to do. Campus officials have told athletes that they have until the beginning of August to shut down their Facebook profiles, and that they will be banned from the site thereafter.
Laing Kennedy, the university’s athletics director, told The Columbus Dispatch that the Facebook ban was intended, at least in part, to prevent students from being contacted by strangers (or, worse yet, sports agents). In that case, why not just ask students to delete phone and e-mail information from their profiles? As Mr. Kennedy said, Kent State is also trying to protect its own reputation: Pictures of hazing and underage drinking aren’t exactly good news for athletics programs.
It’s hard to imagine the Facebook ban—dodgy as it is from a free-speech standpoint—going over well at Kent State. That’s especially true because, as Mr. Kennedy admits, the university is now applying a double standard to its athletes. “The expectations of a student-athlete are significantly higher than if you are an ordinary student,” he said. —Brock Read