August 16, 2006
MySpace and Facebook.com have college students posting personal information about themselves and even their schools.
And students are making themselves vulnerable to the outside world.
Now, ASU is stepping up its efforts to monitor student athletes.
ASU's Athletic Department is taking steps to make sure what students are posting online is in good taste.
When basketball junior Tyrekus Bowman isn't suiting up or studying for class, chances are he's logging on.
Like several other student athletes, Tyrekus operates two very personal web pages. They're posted on MySpace and Facebook.com.
"I have a slideshow of some of my basketball highlights," he says. "[Sites like MySpace are] one of the most popular things on campus."
So popular, in fact, they've caught the eye of ASU coaches.
"It gives an opportunity for students to put a lot more on a web page than they probably actually want to," says ASU athletic director Clint Bryant.
That's why Bryant's asking coaches to monitor their players online, looking out for inappropriate pictures, profanity or even illegal activities like underage drinking.
"These are the types of things that we're going to be looking for, because I think those are the type of behaviors that can eventually come back and haunt someone," he says.
To better demonstrate the school's mission, we put Tyrekus to the test, and asked that he show his basketball coach and us the contents of his MySpace page.
"Is there anything in your comments that you might be embarrassed by or wouldn't want your coach to read?" we asked.
"None of my messages would be vulgar or sexually oriented and stuff," Tyrekus said.
What we learned of the junior athlete is that he's very proud of his accomplishments in an ASU uniform, and he says he'd never post material that could compromise his career.
"Are you 21?"
"No, I'm 20."
"Would you ever post pictures of yourself drinking alcohol?"
"That'd be dumb," Tyrekus said.
"If done correctly, [sites like MySpace] can be a very positive thing and a way to communicate among students," says Bryant.
And that's really the message ASU's administration is sending, to educate students on responsible, online behavior.
In a news release, the university says it does not intend to infringe on its students' First Amendment rights.
News 12 did some checking. We found other incidents involving athletes and what they post on MySpace and Facebook.com.
The Bowling Green football coach took one look at the Facebook.com profile photos of his barely-clothed players having too much fun in a hot tub and made them run sprints until they got sick.
And the Ohio State University women's gymnastics coach told her student athletes to clean up their web page profiles or they would not being going on the next away meet.