When a student blogger at a community college in Syracuse reported Wednesday that Jim Boeheim had been asked to retire at the end of the season, most Orange fans surely were smart enough to judge the credibility of the story with a highly skeptical eye.
Only after Syracuse University's official twitter account legitimized the blog by citing it and linking to it did the story begin to circulate.
The above @SyracuseU tweet was deleted within minutes, but by then it had already hit Deadspin and spread on social media. As a result, a spokesman for the Syracuse athletic department had to deny there was any truth to the story and the @SyracuseU account had to issue a hasty apology.
Why would Syracuse link to the story in the first place? Well, it probably doesn't help that the university lets students run its official Twitter feed, a choice that has led to mistakes in the past as well.
In Oct. 2011, a student tweeted via the @SyracuseU account that the Orange had received a commitment from elite recruit DaJuan Coleman, a minor violation of NCAA rules since the high school senior couldn't sign his letter of intent for another couple weeks. Another student did the same thing via the @Cuse account last June when he named a committed football recruit who had yet to sign.
Those mistakes, which at worst resulted in secondary violations, were not as serious from a PR standpoint as Wednesday's Boeheim blunder.
Maybe the student in question meant for the tweet to come from his or her personal account. Maybe he or she just exhibited poor judgment. Whatever the reason, it shows the danger of not either training students in charge to be more social media savvy or having a full-time employee to be in charge of protecting and cultivating the school's brand.
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