Is Syracuse basketball coach Jim Boeheim retiring? Yes, eventually. Is he retiring at the end of the 2012-13 season? Possibly.
The 68-year-old curmudgeon captain has more than 900 wins, all of them with the Orange(men), and all good things must come to an end eventually. But hopefully this isn’t how it ends.
A tweet posted by @SyracuseU, the official Twitter account for Syracuse University, wrote: “Did I just watch Jim Boeheim’s last game in the Carrier Dome? One source says yes.” It included a link to DYST Now, which stands for Did You See That?! and claims to be “Syracuse’s First All-Sports Newspaper.”
Truthfully, it’s a blog. Written by a college freshman at Onondaga Community College. Whose bio says he’s “been fortunate enough to interview several famous people/players such as famous broadcaster, Bob Costas, the first African American NBA player, Earl Lloyd, NFL player, Chandler Jones, as well as many more professional and collegiate athletes.”
The blog entry that SU’s tweet linked to is filled with similar punctuation and grammar errors. It claims “a source close to DYST Now” told the blogger that Syracuse has asked Boeheim to retire in the wake of another unsubstantiated rumor that Athletics Director Daryl Gross is meeting with the NCAA about violations related to last year’s team. At the end, it promises readers “We’ll have update you more as more of this story comes out.”
In other words, DON’T BELIEVE A WORD OF IT.
But the fact that @SyracuseU tweeted a link to it threw a can of gasoline on the fire, leading to a report on Deadspin and likely countless other major sports reporting outlets. As Deadspin even notes, “Everything about this is weird, and the @SyracuseU tweet has since been deleted. The DYST Now page is certainly of questionable authority, but why did Syracuse link to it?”
The answer is that Syracuse University, like many other brands, lets students handle the brand’s official account. This is a mistake. A student made a similar mistake for the school when they tweeted about how excited they were to eat some Chick-fil-A over November break on @SyracuseU’s account. Not only is there no Chick-fil-A restaurant within 100 miles of Syracuse, N.Y., the chain also hasn’t been cast in a favorable light public relations-wise recently.
Basically, it happens when social media accounts are shared by multiple users, where people accidentally post stuff they meant to put on their personal account.
As public relations firm Tanner Friedman writes, “This trouble didn’t start at the moment of careless students tweeting. It started because our culture has anointed college students as ‘social media experts.'” Students should not be managing accounts that represent a professional brand, especially one that’s worth millions of dollars.
Of course professionals can make mistakes, too. Professionals are people, and “to err is human.” But when a mistake is made, a professional can correct it quickly and handle the ensuing PR crisis or face the risk of losing their job. If a student mis-tweets, they’re not going to be kicked out of school.
In conclusion, do not worry about Jim Boeheim. He’s leaving eventually, and Syracuse alumni and fans will have to deal with that, but not now. At the very least, the Orange have an NCAA Tournament to worry about first.
And if you need further reassurance, SU spokesman Pete Moore told the Syracuse Post-Standard it’s not true.
Update: A little more than two hours after the Twitter drama started, @SyracuseU posted an official statement: “#OrangeNation: Earlier tonight a tweet was mistakenly sent. Nothing in the tweet was true or accurate and we apologize for the confusion.”
Update No. 2: The gaffe has now become an Associated Press story, and the 19-year-old author of the blog post tells The Post-Standard he’s sticking by his report, claiming his unidentified source also proved to be right about Dion Waiters going pro.
Update No. 3: Some have told me they still believe students should manage the school’s official Twitter account, because they’re students and should be able to learn. My opinion? Let them create an account for a fake brand and learn that way. A brand’s official social media account is, in today’s world, the same as an official spokesperson or public relations director — which are never students. A professional can respond to the mistake faster and minimize the damage before a non-story becomes a story, and be held responsible whereas a student won’t be fired or expelled. And, again, this isn’t the first time this has happened. As TNIAAM points out, a @SyracuseU tweet in 2011 violated NCAA guidelines when they celebrated DaJuan Coleman coming to ‘Cuse before he had signed a letter of intent.