TOWSON, Md. (WJZ) — Social media and college athletes. A Maryland university bans its football players from Twitter, causing backlash from students and lawmakers alike.
Weijia Jiang has the growing controversy over the Twitter time-out.
Right before a Towson University playoff game, a star player for the other team, Lehigh, used a racial slur in a message he sent out on Twitter.
“It’s very easy to mess up on Twitter,” said Towson senior Bryan Reichert.
Later, the NCAA suspended him. That’s why Rob Ambrose, head coach of the Tigers, says he banned Towson football players from tweeting. Ambrose told WJZ’s media partner, the Baltimore Sun, “Yeah, I took a pretty drastic action, but for me, it was the cold water on the face to get their attention.”
The decision has drawn sharp criticism from the Towson community.
“It’s your right to use whatever social media you want to use,” said Towson senior Brittney Cooper.
There’s also a group of Maryland lawmakers trying to make it illegal for schools to monitor how students use social media.
“It’s a violation of their First Amendment. It’s like asking them not to use the phone, to use the mail,” said Senator Ron Young.
Some students on campus agree with the coach’s decision and say it not only protects the players but also the university’s image.
“The only way to contain some of these disasters people put out on social media is to say for the time being, it’s not going to happen,” said Towson senior A.J. Golden.
Other coaches have also enforced a Twitter time-out. Former Maryland men’s basketball coach Gary Williams once asked his players not to use it during the season.
“The ban may have been excessive,” said Towson field hockey player Ashley Rivera.
Rivera says her coach has compromised. Rivera is allowed to tweet but signed a contract promising to be prudent.
“Because we are representing our school,” Rivera said.
Ambrose says the ban is not permanent but will be in place until there’s a better understanding of how to use Twitter.
Maryland lawmakers are also trying to pass a law that would prevent business owners from monitoring employees’ social media accounts.