Coach Boeheim

Coach Boeheim

I documented last week that numerous companies and universities do not always adhere to the rules of social media management. As it turns out, it looks like Syracuse University didn’t read my ‘well crafted’ post.

Last week, an interesting piece went out on a small Syracuse area blog, which is run by a college freshman. The article stated that Syracuse’s curmudgeon coach of 37 years, Jim Boeheim (who has an affinity of going after reporters), would be asked to retire at the end of the year amid allegations of NCAA rules violations. As I said, the source wasn’t exactly the Wall St. Journal, so the story didn’t really have any legs and wasn’t reported many other places.

That all changed when the official Syracuse University Twitter feed referenced the piece, saying it might be Boeheim’s last game at the Carrier Dome where the Orangemen play their home games:

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Keep in mind, this wasn’t the Syracuse Men’s Basketball Twitter feed, nor was it the Syracuse Athletic Department Twitter feed, but rather the account that covers the entire university. Needless to say, everything changed when that tweet was sent out. Various outlets began covering the situation, including the Associated Press. The tweet was deleted within hours and followed up with a strange apology:

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Of course, this forced the athletic department to go immediately into full on spin control. Kevin Quinn, the Senior Vice President of Student Affairs at the university, had to release a statement saying nothing about the tweet or article was accurate or true. Since then, Boeheim has been asked about the report at just about every press conference he has been forced to attend.

What is even more bizarre is this isn’t the first time that the official Syracuse University account has been in hot water due to strange tweets. In October 2011, Syracuse violated NCAA guidelines by announcing that basketball recruit DaJuan Coleman would be playing college basketball for the Orangemen. There was one small issue, though: the young man had only given a verbal commitment to the university and had yet to sign the official NCAA letter of intent. Before a student athlete signs the letter of intent, their name cannot be posted on any social media pages associated with the university. Syracuse realized this, deleted the tweet, reported it to the NCAA, and said it wouldn’t happen again. About a month after that lapse in judgement, they posted something even more strange about eating Chic-Fil-A for breakfast, even though there is no Chic-Fil-A within an hour and a half from the campus.

Syracuse has freely admitted that their Twitter feed is run by students. I don’t see a problem with students managing social accounts for a university, but they need to be sufficiently trained and understand the goals of the account. This is especially true when you are dealing with the main Twitter handle for the entire university. No matter how you look it it, a university is a brand, and that brand needs to be managed accordingly. When you are trying to attract students who wil pay upwards of nearly $40,000 per year in tuition alone, you should probably be sure your branding is buttoned up accordingly. It isn’t acceptable to make mistake after mistake on something that is so easy to prevent.