Tennessee takes a different approach to players and social media

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Social media has been one of the biggest problems for athletic departments to tackle in recent years, as they decide how to deal with the wealth of information that players can disseminate through Twitter, Facebook, and other sites.

Jeff Eisenberg over at Yahoo! was the first to point it out, and it’s now clear that Tennessee is embracing the medium, rather than rejecting it.

Associate media relations director Tom Satkowiak has added players’ Twitter handles to the official roster, giving fans and media members the chance to follow along on social media.

Tennessee’s approach is education, not regulation, which should be the standard.

“I cringe every time I see a coach or program ban the use of social media,” Satkowiak told Yahoo!. “I think we should be educating guys on how to use it because it’s not going to go away. It’s a part of life now. We just need to educate them on how to use it right.”

One of the NCAA’s main rallying points is that most athletes will not go on to play sports professionally, so they ought to be prepared for when they leave college and enter the working world in another profession.

How many professions don’t use social media these days? You would be hard-pressed to find many.

For schools that decide to regulate, this now puts players out on a limb, uneducated about how social media can affect their lives, both positively and negatively.

As Eisenberg details in his story, Tennessee runs seminars where players are taught how to be responsible on the Internet.

“If I can teach guys to represent the school the right way and use social media as a branding tool for themselves, then it makes me more comfortable putting it out there,” Satkowiak told Yahoo!. “I know it’s a calculated risk since they’re 18, 19 years old, but we’ve tried to be as proactive as we can.”

Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at JohnnyJungle.com, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_