Support Marketplace

Software protects college athletes from online no-nos

TEXT OF STORY

Bill Radke: Lastest evidence that college sports are lucrative: The NCAA recently signed a broadcast deal for almost $11 billion. But that industry is balanced precariously on the backs of young athletes. Just like most kids, college players make mistakes, and thanks to the Internet, mistakes can last forever. Here's reporter Sally Herships.


Sally Herships Kevin Long makes his living collecting bad words. He keeps a list: 450 of them to be exact.

Kevin Long: Well, you've got the George Carlin words that you can't say on TV. Anything that deals with violence, sex, drugs.

You know, words like: [bleep]. Those expletives gave Long an idea. He founded a software company, UDiligence, which monitors college students' social media. But not just any students: college athletes. Schools pay UDiligence between $1,500 to $5,000 a year to flag updates, tweets and posts with racy words. When young players stumble online their questionable judgement can seen by enough viewers to fill a stadium.

Announcer: In this new day of social media employees, students and athletes are quickly learning it's better to keep your thoughts to yourself.

Other Announcers We have learned more about a UT player who was kicked off of the Football team. Sources tell Fox 7 he posted a racial slur on his Facebook page . . .

So more and more schools are keeping tabs on their team's social networking. Atheles allow themselves to be monitored, so it's perfectly legal. And over two dozen schools use UDiligence. Joe Favorito does sports marketing for the pros. He says money from athletics can reach all over campus, funding scholarships, art and music. A top team can bring in licensing deals worth millions. It can't afford sloppy student situations.

Joe Favorito: They're selling sponsorships. So you could become the official bank of the University of Texas, or you could become the official insurance company of the University of Delaware.

And, Favorito says, crisis management is expensive. It can run twenty to twenty five thousand dollars a month to clean up a school's reputation.

Favorito: It's like insurance If you don't have insurance and you have something catastrophic happen to you, you always pay a lot more in the end.

UDiligence CEO Kevin Long says it's not just schools. Athletes are at risk too -- they've got their futures to think about. So he gives this advice: He calls it the "Mom Rule". If you're not OK with your mom reading it, seeing it or getting in a text, think twice before putting it out there.

I'm Sally Herships for Marketplace.

Comments

I agree to American Public Media's Terms and Conditions.
With Generous Support From...