University of Minnesota Duluth Bans Facebook and MySpace for Athletes

heartlightThe University of Minnesota Duluth (UMD) has banned varsity athletes’ participation in Internet social networking sites like MySpace an Facebook. If a student athlete is discovered to have such a site “we would ask them to remove it” stated university Athletic Director Bob Neilson in today’s Duluth News Tribune. He continues, “If inappropriate content is found the student would be disciplined according the athletic department’s code of conduct.”

The new UMD Code of Conduct contains the following personal website policy language for athletes:

“Internet Web sites, such as, but not limited to, and, on which people socialize and exchange information, have proven many times to contain information of pictures that demonstrate a violation of the UMD Athletic Department’s Code of Conduct. For example, student-athletes have been found to have written disparaging remarks about fellow athletes or department personnel, have demonstrated poor sportsmanship with comments about other schools or other school athletes, or have added pictures of themselves of teammates reflecting underage drinking or other inappropriate behavior. Because student athletes are public figures and need to represent the University in the most positive way, the UMD Athletic Department is prohibiting the posting on any Internet Website  of any remarks that can be considered as inflammatory, degrading, or in poor taste toward any other UMD student, student athlete, coach, and any remarks that can be considered as inflammatory, degrading, or in poor taste toward student athletes from any other institution or any other institution’s team or coaching staff or any other type of remarks or pictures that would indicate a violation of the UMD Code of Conduct.”

Student Athletes as Public Figures
The University indicated that the policy has been put in place as a reminder to student athletes that they are public figures. While university officials declined to comment on which sport prompted the policy updates, it is widely known that there was a previous incident involving University of Minnesota Duluth student athletes posting pictures depicting underage drinking. Posts have included defaming comments about other students, coaches, and other college programs and athletes.

The university admits to using the website to monitor potential violations of the new policy and individual coaches are responsible for enforcing the new behavior guidelines. The university also admits that policing the new policy may prove difficult.

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