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The Daily Tar Heel

Athletes free to tweet in California

California could soon join other states in extending more social media privacy rights to student athletes — protections that student athletes at UNC-Chapel Hill don’t have.

California’s state legislature approved legislation= last week that prohibits public and private higher education institutions from requiring students to provide user names, passwords or access to their personal social media accounts. The bill would become law if signed by Gov. Jerry Brown.

The use of social media by student athletes has sparked controversy in the past, especially in UNC-CH’s athletic department.

Earlier this year, head women’s basketball coach Sylvia Hatchell made players abstain from using Twitter after a string of underwhelming performances.

Former head football coach Butch Davis banned his players from Twitter as well, but current coach Larry Fedora has since lifted the ban.

The University athletic department’s policy on social media usage states that student athletes’ postings must comply with federal, state, team, department and NCAA rules.

But each team must designate at least one coach or administrator to monitor athletes’ social networking sites and posts. The bill in California would outlaw that type of monitoring in the state.

Delaware enacted a similar law 309?Opendocument last month with protections for students at public and private higher education institutions.

Joni Worthington, spokeswoman for the UNC system, said in an email that there is no systemwide policy regarding students’ social media accounts.

“Each campus would have individual social media policies and computer use policies,” she said. “Some athletic departments may have special policies applicable to athletes that are different from general campus policies.”

Brooke Converse, spokeswoman for the University of California system, said some athletic coaches throughout the system have requested their players add them on Facebook to monitor their behavior, but the system does not have a set policy.

Converse said the UC system will now be evaluating its social media practices to implement the legislation if it is signed into law.

Contact the desk editor at state@dailytarheel.com.

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