Instagram, sepia tones: Worthy of NCAA violations?

By Kristen Coppola

The NCAA is constantly refining the rules for recruitment of student athletes with the advances in technology and social media. The NCAA is in place to make sure that extreme violations like those by Southern Methodist U. and Miami don’t happen again.

In some ways the huge problems that happened at those programs and at other colleges across the nation have turned the NCAA into an over protective parent.

This was very apparent in an educational column posted on the NCAA’s Legislative Services Database Wednesday regarding pictures.

In some ways, it’s typical NCAA jargon – all photos are considered attachments whether they are sent via e-mail, text message or direct message on social media, and all attached photos have to fall under the guidelines set by the NCAA.

Those guidelines are that none of the photos may be staged or altered. This means no posed pictures of Coach Mike Anderson with Nolan Richardson in front of the 1994 National Championship trophy tweeted at top recruits.

Altering photos extends into photography applications, especially Instagram with its burgeoning popularity.

If you paused for a moment, then you are not alone.

The educational column read:

“Question: May a coach take a photo and use software (e.g., Instagram, Photoshop, Camera Awesome, Camera+,) to enhance the content of the photo (e.g., changed color of photo to sepia tones or add content to the photograph), and send it to a prospective student-athlete as an attachment to an email or direct social media message?

“Answer: No, a photograph that has been altered or staged for a recruiting purpose cannot be sent to a prospective student-athlete.”

When you think about the ways that Adobe Photoshop can manipulate images, the rule gains some ground.

It would be out-of-line for a coach to send a picture that had the recruit photoshopped over Corliss Williamson’s face on the April 11, 1994 issue of Sports Illustrated with the added words, “This could be you.”

But an action shot from that day’s basketball practice with the “Earlybird” Instagram filter applied is also considered out-of-line under these rules.

Is an Instagram filter really something that could mislead, manipulate and sway recruits to the point that it deserves to be outlawed by the NCAA?

At the end of the day, the NCAA is trying to protect student athletes from being exploited by boosters or recruiting agents. They have honorable intentions.

I’m not sure of the thought processes of the student athletes that universities are recruiting these days, but when I was choosing a college, I didn’t take the photography skills into the decision.

Read more here: Instagram, Sepia Tones: Worthy of NCAA Violations?
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