A Year After Major Social Media Gaffes, Syracuse University is Still Making Mistakes on Twitter and Facebook

Previously, I wrote a piece detailing Syracuse University’s mishandling of Twitter. At the time, it was clear that Syracuse had serious trouble reining in their social media team, and it looks like they still don’t have a handle on things. Uninformed news stories, weird tweets, and even NCAA infractions have plagued the university.

Last March, @SyracuseU tweeted that their legendary basketball Coach Jim Boeheim may have coached his last game and be retiring. The university blamed the gaffe on someone being logged into the wrong Twitter account. A year before that, Syracuse tweeted out congratulations that a five star basketball recruit would be coming to play for the Orange the next year. The only problem: the player hadn’t signed his National Letter of Intent yet, so they’d committed an NCAA infraction. A couple of weeks later, the @SyracuseU account then tweeted about how much they like Chick-Fil-A even though there are no Chick-Fil-A restaurants within 90 miles of the Syracuse campus.

One would think that after so many mistakes, someone at the university would sit down and write some social media policies to ensure that similar problems never happen again.  Unfortunately, that doesn’t seem to be the case. Syracuse is at it again, and these two unfortunate posts may cause more trouble for the university than all of the others combined.



Screen Shot 2014-02-18 at 10.23.15 AM

Screen Shot 2014-02-18 at 10.23.15 AM

Syracuse Freshman Tyler Ennis made an amazing 40 foot buzzer beater on February 12th, keeping the Orange undefeated in what was arguably the best college basketball game of the season. Two days after the game, someone using the Syracuse Athletics Twitter and Facebook accounts decided to send out the messages above to their followers.

On the surface, it may appear that nothing is blatantly wrong. However, Tyler Ennis is a student-athlete, not getting paid for his efforts on the basketball court, and the NCAA has mandated that a university cannot directly profit from a student-athlete’s likeness, including memorabilia. This topic came to a head in August, when the NCAA stopped schools from selling all jerseys, photos, or anything that could be tied to a player.

By selling #11 jerseys, Syracuse is not committing any sort of violation, because the twisted logic would be that Ennis is just wearing or even borrowing the number 11 while he is at Syracuse, and it is not his likeness. However, when the staffer tweeted out “Get your Tyler Ennis” jersey, it become a direct violation. Like with the vast majority of social media blunders, once the mistake was uncovered, the tweet and Facebook post were quickly deleted.  Syracuse went on to issue the below apology. The NCAA has yet to release a statement.

The tweet was posted by a social media team member, and it was taken down because it should not have been posted, in accordance with NCAA guidelines, which are clearly communicated to all with access to social media accounts. It was an honest mistake and when our team realized it was not appropriate, it was deleted in approximately 20 minutes. We will be letting the NCAA know and ensuring that something like this does not happen again.

Of course, it’s absurd that if Syracuse had tweeted “Get your Player #11 Jersey,” it would be perfectly fine by NCAA standards.

But the real story is a lack of any sort of social media guidance or control at Syracuse. Of course mistakes happen, and you have to learn from them. However, four documented lapses and two direct NCAA violations seem a bit much.

While every tweet from your personal or business Twitter account may not be scrutinized by tens of thousands of people, there’s a lesson to be learned from Syracuse. Think twice before you tweet. It’s very easy to hammer in 140 characters on the spur of the moment, but tough to take it back after the post hits the world wide web.  This is especially true if you manage social media accounts for a business or another entity. It’s in your best interest to not only think before you tweet, but to have another staffer proofread what you plan to post before it goes out. Unfortunately, Syracuse is still trying to figure that out.