Student Athletes and Social Media

Why What You Post Matters


Students are growing up in the age of social media where their lives are displayed online for just about anybody to see online, and that includes potential college coaches.

College Admissions

One of the first places college admission boards look (after they receive an application) is at a student's digital footprint. This means they are googling your name and checking your social media. According to a recent survey, over a third of college applicants were rejected due to something posted on social media.

So, what puts up a red flag to college admission boards?

  • Profanity
  • Hateful or bigoted speech
  • Sexualized images and innuendo
  • References to drugs or alcohol

And keep this in mind: Google keeps track of your digital footprint for nine years now. This means what you post as a sixth grader is viewable by the college admissions board through a simple Google search, which over 50% of colleges do when considering whether to accept a student or not.

Why Do Coaches Care What You Post?

College coaches are not just looking for athletic talent. They also want caring team members, leaders on and off the field, as well as students who will represent their team and college well. Your social media postings provide great insight into whether you disparage or support others, whether you have sportsmanlike conduct, and what type of activities you might do off the field.

In fact, social media has had such an impact on college sports that most athletic departments have a very specific policy in regards to their athletes' social media. Some colleges require you to "friend" or allow a coaching staff member to follow all your accounts. Others even use professional monitoring services such as to keep track of what their athletes are tweeting and posting. And while there have been debates on the legalities of such monitoring as well as student athletes' right to free speech, all coaches still use social media as a gauge of a prospective athlete.

Tips to Clean Up Your Digital Footprint

  • Do you have posts that might send up a red flag? Start deleting them now! (You might even consider deleting your entire social media account and starting over with a new one.)
  • DO NOT assume anything is private or hidden. (Even those accounts which are set to private or those finsta accounts. Phones get hacked, private texts and videos get posted, and there is always a record of it somewhere.)
  • Consider doing some type of online project for good - such as a virtual fundraiser or volunteer work. Be sure to document it through pictures and posts, so these types of posts show up versus anything negative.
  • Search yourself online. If something negative pops up, see if you can contact the owner (if a friend) to take down.

Here's a quick video for more info: