Laremy Tunsil unwittingly became a poster child for social-media responsibility a few weeks ago when his NFL Draft stock plummeted after an unflattering video was posted to his Twitter account by an apparent hacker as the first round got underway. The University of Mississippi defensive lineman went from a projected top-five pick to No. 13, costing him $10-12 million in the process.
Tates Creek football coach Antoine Sims hasn’t had to deal with any inappropriate conduct by his players on social media — knock on wood. He not only encourages his kids to be mindful of what they post, he wants parents to understand how their children are using applications like Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat. Parents are sometimes unaware of things their teenagers share online; a recent Pew Research Center study found that only 60 percent of parents had ever checked their kids’ social-media profiles and just 40 percent had ever had discussions with their kids about what was appropriate or inappropriate to share online.
In Tunsil’s case, it would appear a vindictive party had access to his Twitter account. It very well could have been someone he trusted with his password, effectively handing them the knife with which to stab him. Sims believes the only people who need to know a player’s password are the player and his parents.
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“Your friends don’t need to know everything,” Sims said. “ ... You might be friends today and you might be enemies tomorrow.”
It’s difficult for coaches to monitor their athletes’ social-media profiles 24/7. Paul Laurence Dunbar basketball coach Scott Chalk — whose team garnered a ton of traditional media attention en route to a Sweet 16 title this season — said his staff has a pretty good handle on tracking Twitter. But Snapchat — where posts disappear after a set period of time — is more troublesome.
Chalk has had to ask players to remove potentially harmful posts from their profiles, but he thinks people have unrealistic expectations when it comes to governing kids’ social-media use.
“They don’t act in real life just like you want them to or like an adult would because they’re a kid,” Chalk said. “Well, they’re not gonna act on there perfectly or like an adult, either, because they’re a kid. ... It’s not surprising in any way that they’re gonna do some things that are silly or stupid. That’s just part of it.”
Sims said it’s difficult to ask kids to use social-media appropriately all the time when there are adults who use it inappropriately. Something unsavory could come from the most unlikely of places; the quietest kid in school might have a boisterous social-media presence, he said, making it even more harrowing for coaches.
College coaches are keeping an ever-watchful eye on kids’ public profiles. There is sometimes a sliding standard at play, though; some programs might be more willing to put up with poor choices on social media depending on the kids’ level of talent. Dunbar hosted a showcase in February featuring several of the nation’s best recruits. Some of them displayed the worst character Chalk had ever seen.
“They’ve signed at some of the best schools in the country ’cause they’re willing to overlook it and deal with it ’cause the guy’s a great player,” Chalk said. “Of course people are keeping up with it, but they’ll put up with varying degrees of it based on how good the kid is, unfortunately.”
Talented high schoolers aren’t impervious to bad social-media habits coming back to bite them, however. In 2014, then-Georgia football coach Mark Richt rescinded an offer to a recruit because of his behavior on Twitter. Penn State and Houston have also dropped potential prospects because of social media practices.
If an NFL draftee can lose millions of dollars over a video and a talented football player can lose a scholarship offer at Georgia over 140 characters, one would imagine fringe players being especially cautious before they hit “send.” For most kids, Chalk said, it’s hard to conceptualize the impact such brief interactions can have.
“Kids live five minutes from now, not five years from now,” Chalk said. “ ... When you’re 15 or 16 years old, you hear people say that and you don’t even know what they’re talking about. It doesn’t even register what that really means for 95 percent of the kids.
“They need adults in their lives to monitor stuff and stay after them. That’s the only solution. It’s not gonna change. We need better adults and more adults caring about what they do.”
Lawrence County duo Eric Price and Noah West reeled in a record-tying haul to take home the fourth title in the KHSAA State Bass Championship last weekend.
Their two-day catch weighed in at 34 pounds, 4 ounces, which matched the record set by Bracken Robertson and Dillon Starks of Calloway County at the first state championship in 2013.
Price and West became the first group from Eastern Kentucky to win the state title and the first not from the western part of the state. The other top-five finishers were: Daniel Schroeder and Ashton Goff, McCracken County (30 pounds, 2 ounces); Bailey Hardwick and Logan Rigney, Wayne County (27 pounds, 9 ounces); Colby Hays and Austin Bray, Pulaski County (27 pounds, 4 ounces); and James Hampton and Cole Noffsinger, Muhlenberg County (27 pounds, 2 ounces).
Myles Mcmanus of Calloway County, who along with teammate Clayton Bobo finished 30th overall, caught the largest bass of the tournament. His 7-pound, 15-ounce whopper was the biggest in the tournament’s history. It was the second straight season an angler from Calloway County set the state record (Cody Jackson did it a year ago).
Lafayette’s Cameron Buchignani and Landon Orr were 60th overall with a two-day catch totaling 7 pounds, 14 ounces.
▪ Boyle County freshman Hannah Wesley was named the Midway University/KHSAA Female Student-Athlete of the Year in bass fishing on Saturday. She was the first recipient of the newly created award, which will be given to an individual in each girls’ sport through the 2017 KHSAA State Archery Tournament. All of the individual winners will be eligible for the overall female Athlete of the Year award to be presented in May 2017.
Notable items from the KHSAA’s final board of control meeting of the school year last week:
▪ Effective beginning with the 2016 season, the state football finals will be held Friday through Sunday with two games to be played each day. Previously three games were played on Friday and Saturday. In a news release, the KHSAA said the adjustment would help minimize lost school time as well as alleviate traffic concerns at the host site. Western Kentucky University is slated to host all six football championships through 2018.
▪ A recommendation from Commissioner Julian Tackett to set Collins Eastland as the site of the state bowling championships in 2017 and 2018 was accepted. A staff option exists to extend it as the event host in 2019 and 2020.
▪ The board instructed staff to form an advisory committee for a state dance championship which, if given final approval, would begin in 2017-18.
▪ The board accepted a three-year proposal from Spalding to become the official ball partner for the KHSAA beginning with the 2016-17 season. Rawlings, whose deal expires at the end of the 2015-16 season, was the previous partner.
Henry Clay golfer Leslie Ginter was one of several Blue Devils to sign college letters of intent this week. The 2013 region titlist, who helped Henry Clay to five state tournament appearances, selected Savannah School of Art and Design over offers from Eastern Kentucky, Florida Atlantic, Middle Tennessee and Xavier.
SCAD, which competes in NAIA, is a private school offering degrees in programs like animation, jewelry and television production. It was a perfect fit for a young woman who wanted to play collegiately but whose passions extended beyond the golf course.
“I was hesitant to sign with a D-I school because I have other things I want to do with my life than just golf,” Ginter said. “I feel like if you’re going to go D-I you’re either going to work really hard and go pro, or play your four years and maybe coach and do that kind of stuff.”
Ginter, who will attend the school’s Atlanta campus, wants to major in fashion design. She was delighted to discover SCAD had a golf team and reached out to Coach Wyatt Graff, who returned her email within 24 hours. After visiting the following week, Ginter “absolutely fell in love” with the school.
The prospect of designing her own golf clothing line “would be awesome,” Ginter said. “Everywhere you look to buy golf clothes, there’s nothing really cute.”
▪ Henry Clay’s other signees were: Jennie Clark, Centre (cross country); Krizell Mitchell, St. Catharine (basketball); Jaquise Simpson, St. Catharine (basketball); Jordan Houston, Asbury (basketball); Leander Ridgeway, Lee (basketball); Isaiah “Pun” Tisdale, Vincennes (basketball); and Sara Bidarian, Transylvania (golf).
▪ Ben Eke, a 6-foot-9 senior at Logan (W.Va.), committed to play basketball at Eastern Kentucky University on Wednesday.
Former Perry County Central coach Allan Hatcher was the head coach at Logan last season before resigning this month due to health reasons. Late in the season, he suffered a heart attack and underwent triple-bypass surgery. Hatcher missed Logan’s last few games, including the postseason.
In addition to Perry Central, Hatcher coached Graves County and Marshall County to Sweet Sixteen berths.
▪ Paul Laurence Dunbar girls’ soccer player Sloan Cromwell, a goalkeeper, recently signed to play at Transylvania. Cromwell made news in 2014 when she became the first girl in Fayette County to make a high school baseball team, surviving the cut for the Bulldogs’ junior varsity.
▪ Madison Central, which won the KHSAA State Archery tournament last month, placed second in the National Archery in Schools Program nationals in Louisville last weekend. The Indians finished two points behind Hartland (Mich.) and four points ahead of Castle (Ind.)
Eight other Kentucky schools finished in the top 20 out of 232 teams in the high school division: Trigg County (fourth), Lafayette (eighth), Buckhorn (ninth), Lincoln County (10th), Meade County (11th), Hopkins County Central (12th), Anderson County (15th) and Muhlenberg County (16th). Paul Laurence Dunbar placed 31st overall.
Hopkins County Central won the NASP/IBO 3D Challenge out of 129 teams. That event requires archers to shoot at a three-dimensional target, such as a deer.
▪ Gene Peterson was named football coach at Rowan County last week. Peterson, who most recently was the offensive coordinator at Bath County, succeeded former Vikings coach Ray Graham.
Peterson, whose other coaching stops include Kentucky Christian, Fleming County and Manchester (Ohio), is Rowan County’s third coach in six seasons and its seventh in the last 15.
Graham, who was the head coach at Lexington Christian from 2010 to 2013, was suspended in late February pending a Kentucky Office of Education Accountability investigation. In late April Rowan County Superintendent Marvin Moore confirmed to The Morehead News that Graham’s contract was not renewed for the 2016-17 season.
▪ Montgomery County cross country coach Hopey Newkirk was named one of 13 finalists for Brooks Running Company’s Inspiring Coach of the Year Award. Every finalist receives $5,000 in gear and $500 to use for team expenses. The winner, who receives an additional $5,000 in running gear and $2,000 for team expenses, will be announced June 17 in Seattle.
Newkirk has competed in the Boston Marathon and in 1979 was part of the Morehead State team that won the very first Ohio Valley Conference women’s cross country championship. She was inducted into Morehead’s Hall of Fame in 2001.