#GridironGang: Social Media and NCAA recruiting

We all have been told at some point in our lives to “watch what we put on social media”, because at some point in time it could come back...

We all have been told at some point in our lives to “watch what we put on social media”, because at some point in time it could come back to bite us.  The boom of recruitment and job seeking via social media platforms has effected how people land jobs forever, but how does this effect industries of a slightly smaller scale? Say, college athletics?  The NCAA is the major governing body for collegiate athletics and a combined “1,092 colleges and universities are affiliated at either the division I, II, or III level” (NCAA.org).  Recruiting is a massive niche market carved out of this conglomerate of different entities that make up college athletics.  How a coach, program, or even alumni can utilize social media to persuade recruits to play for their school is an intriguing topic and plays a major role in the recruiting process.  On the flip side social media is a way for prospective recruits to learn more about programs and try and grow their own brand through various means of production and content.  New social media has opened up a new realm of interpersonal communication which can act as a major influencer in the college recruiting game.
As the industry of collegiate athletics continues to grow we will continue to see the importance of platforms like twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat magnify.  How this effects the recruiting process from a recruiter standpoint is extremely important; in a recent interview with ESPN Iowa State head football coach Mike Campbell, the coach said of his developing program “We’re using social media to rebrand Iowa State football,” (Crabtree, 2016).  Not only are these platforms being utilized to connect to fanbases, but administration like Campbell are using it to breathe new life into an entire program.  Using Social media to connect, follow, and post about recruiting classes, keep in touch with prospective players, and advertise to the audiences about their program.  In a fast paced micro “economy” such as collegiate athletics (in particular football and men’s/women’s basketball) it is said that if you aren’t growing you are shrinking and the tools that social media provides help give coaches that edge.
Now, social media can be a double edged sword especially for prospective and committed recruits. Using platforms such as Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and Huddl, recruits are able to set themselves apart from competition.  They are able to build a brand for themselves and market themselves in ways comparable to a professional athlete.  The negative side of this is the looming fact that these programs monitor the prospective recruits’ accounts; no team wants a troublemaker to be representing them on the field or online; thus it is key that any high school athlete looking to be recruited keeps a relatively clean account.  Many times it can hurt the recruits looking to get noticed, “There are numerous examples of recruits having scholarships pulled or being completely dropped because of social media entanglements…” (Crabtree, 2016).  Collegiate recruiting has become one of the largest subindustries of collegiate athletics.  Year after year programs, schools, and recruits are advancing the trade; social media has acted as a catalyst in this process and allows it to advance to higher levels. 


• Crabtree, J. (2016, January 26). What’s social media’s true role in recruiting? Retrieved October 11, 2016, from espn.com
• Gerencer, T. (2016). How Much Money Does the NCAA Make? Retrieved October 11, 2016, from moneynation.com
• NCAA Recruiting Facts. (n.d.). Retrieved October 11, 2016, from ncaa.org

Matthew Werner (The University of Vermont)
A junior at The University of Vermont, Matt enjoys spending his time goofing around with his friends, listening to Drake, and being a self-proclaimed hardcore Boston sports fan #CityOfChamps.


Rob Williams, Ph.D., University of Vermont Professor of Media/Communication.

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