The NCAA is cramping Mississippi State’s social media swag.
According to a rules memo dated April 17, the NCAA football rules committee has banned the use of Twitter hashtags on football fields. MSU, of course, was the first school to do such a thing, painting #HAILSTATE in its end zone for the 2011 Egg Bowl versus Ole Miss. The hashtag remained there for the entire 2012 season and was last seen at the recent Maroon-White spring game on April 20.
In the memo, the football rules committee outlined what markings are allowed on the field of play: the NCAA logo, conference logo, college/university team name and logo, team name and logo, name of the commercial entity that purchased naming rights to the facility, and in the case of postseason games only the name/logo of the title sponsor.
“All other items, including social media designations such as URL’s and hashtags, are prohibited.” Why? No real reason was given, although the rule is prefaced by this phrase: “Except as noted herein, there may be no advertising on the field, which includes the end zones and sideline areas.” Hashtags are a form of advertising, then?
I asked the NCAA for further clarification on why this ruling was made. Here is the reply I got from NCAA spokesperson Stacey Osburn: “Hash tags [sic] in football stadiums are okay, just not on the actual playing field. The Football Rules Committee clarified this rule because it wants as clean a field as possible.”
So instead of cluttering up the end zone with #HAILSTATE, MSU will likely have MISSISSIPPI STATE in both end zones. For those scoring at home, that’s 10 characters for the hash tag, 16 for the school’s name.
MSU has been proactive in recent years on the social media front, especially on Twitter. It’s used the micro-blogging service for marketing, game day information, news, and all the other normal uses. Most MSU coaches are on Twitter, as is athletics director Scott Stricklin. State has also tried to find ways to monitor Twitter, especially in regards to the athletes who have accounts.