Barnhart on what is and is not ‘Twitter-able’

Kentucky athletics director MItch Barnhart opened today’s Football Media Day and addressed a variety of subjects, including social media where he came up with his own word — Twitter-able.

Q. I want to get your thoughts on social media. Seems like the NCAA keeps relaxing its restrictions on the usage of social media. I know a lot of UK coaches are on Twitter. What are your thoughts on coaches and administrators, essentially your employees, using social media not only to reach out to potential recruits but just engaging with fans in general?
MITCH BARNHART: Well, two things. It depends on which parts of social media you’re talking about from the NCAA. Text messaging in recruiting… There’s a couple aspects to social media. One is how you reach young people, how they want to communicate with you, okay?

I think that as times change, the way we talk to young people, they are very tech savvy. They want to be connected that way. If you said, I sent you an email, I’m sure most those kids would go, I’m not doing email. I can shoot you a group text. Some of them respond to that. Then they respond other ways. Obviously all of other entities in social media, there’s ways to get to them.

There’s two pieces. One, how do you connect with them in recruiting. There’s some NCAA legislation to all of that. There’s some ways they’ve relaxed a little bit of that for us to be able to do that.

Then you have the other aspect. You have to divide the two. One is how you communicate with your fans, how the young people and your coaches and staff and administrators communicate with young people.

That’s the world we’re in. I think it’s really hard. What we tend to want to do, I say this all the time to our coaches, staff and athletes, we want to live life in the extremes. We want to live in the polars, we never want to live in the balance. It’s either all over here or nothing over here. Never do we find the middle. I don’t care what you’re talking about.

Social media, never be on Twitter, that’s not the answer. The answer is not to be totally loaded on Twitter. You can’t just communicate that way. How do you do enough to be socially acceptable in the world of social media and find some way to be reasonable and make sure you’re paying attention to your job or craft or whatever you happen to be doing.

There’s some things that are Twitter-able, if that’s a word (laughter). Did I just make that up? Pretty good. There’s other stuff that shouldn’t be Twitter-able. Shouldn’t be.

Q. Like what?
MITCH BARNHART: Stuff that needs to stay in the locker room. There’s health stuff. Doesn’t need to be out there. Personal stuff that involves relationships with people. Doesn’t need to be out there.

If you want to text that you got cheesecake last night, tweet that you got cheesecake out there last night. Who cares, great. Frankly, most of the stuff out there, I say, Who cares? I don’t really want to know what you did, who you’re having dinner with, it doesn’t really matter to me. I’m really old (laughter).

Q. Is that hard for 19-, 18-year-olds to draw that line?
MITCH BARNHART: It is. I have three kids. My son, he’ll say, Did you see what was on Twitter? He keeps me informed pretty much like that. Half these guys over here do that.

It’s hard for young people. That’s all they know. We all get to remember now, the first emails were sent in 1998, right? This is the technology generation. This is all they’ve ever known, all they’ve ever known. So they assume it’s been like this for forever. They don’t know any different.

They assume that all of us are locked and loaded, we understand the world and look in the same lens that they do. We don’t.

Why would they do that, why would they put that out on social media? That’s their world. We have to understand how they communicate. That’s okay. But balance is really important in all of that. It’s really hard to define what should be. I think it’s really hard for young people.

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