Minnesota coaches sound off on social media in recruiting

by Emily Nicole Polglaze

From recruiting to monitoring, social media continues to have an increased presence in collegiate athletics.
And Minnesota is no exception. Coaches are reaching out to prospective players and keeping tabs on current ones through their online accounts.
“It’s a real advantageous thing to be a part of,” men’s gymnastics head coach Mike Burns said. “That’s just the world we live in nowadays.”
Most notably, Burns said video sharing on platforms such as Instagram and Twitter has become an important tool for coaches and athletics officials to view national talent.
Burns recruits across the country — only seven of the 19 gymnasts on the 2014-15 roster are from Minnesota or Wisconsin. The roster also includes international gymnast Joel Gagnon from Canada.
Burns said it’s more effective to watch a video of a potential recruit and see what he can do rather than just hearing about it.
Men’s tennis head coach Geoff Young said social media has given his team exposure, which in turn helps with recruiting.
The Gophers won a share of the Big Ten regular season conference title this year for the first time since 1995, which helped increase the team’s visibility.
“My hope is that players that I’m recruiting take notice that we have a program that wants to be the best that we can be,” Young said. “Some of the success we’ve had could be an indicator of what they could have if they come to school here.”
Though Young said he’s not as in touch with social media as he should be, he said the sites have been helpful with easing communication between national and
international recruits. 
Young had four international tennis players on his team last season, and sophomore Jeremy Lynn is from Missouri.
Women’s hockey head coach Brad Frost said he uses his personal Twitter account on a daily basis to check in on recruits and current athletes.
“We have to be thinking about how our recruits communicate and what’s important to them,” Frost said. “Social media is important to them, so we have to be on the same page with that.”
Frost said on a few occasions he’s changed his mind about reaching out to a potential recruit because of the athlete’s social media posts.
Burns said he has also experienced a few incidences where athletes posted questionable comments. But those occurrences, he said, are “few and far between.” 
Overall, the coaches view social media as a positive outlet, not a negative one.
“It’s helped unify our world,” Young said. “It certainly doesn’t hurt.