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Is WSU Coach Mike Leach out of bounds with Twitter ban?October 24, 2012 @ 9:10 pm (Updated: 5:36 am - 10/25/12 )
Earlier this week, The Spokesman-Review quoted Leach as saying, "Twitter's now banned around here, so don't expect anything on Twitter."
The coach has a Twitter account that someone maintained for him, although there hasn't been a post since October 11.
Leach had already warned his players to stop tweeting negative things when some vulgar posts popped up from his players. That was the last straw.
"Twitter's banned and quite frankly, if after today you see anything on Twitter from our team — and I don't care if it says, 'I love life' — I would like to see it, because I will suspend them," he told the paper.
While most people who don't care much about Twitter, or WSU football, rolled their eyes, some student reporters dug into the issue.
Two students with the The Edward R. Murrow College of Communication at WSU found legal experts who are concerned about the Twitter ban.
Students Joe Utter and Adam Lewis researched the issue and wrote this:
"You cannot create a prior restraint on your students because they may do something or say something that may create embarrassment (for) your school," said Bradley Shear, a Maryland-based social-media attorney.
Frank LoMonte, executive director at the Student Press Law Center based in Arlington, Va., said such bans will likely face a court challenge in the coming years.
"There's definitely a free speech argument to be made," LoMonte said. "In terms of literally saying don't use a form of communication, I'm not sure if that would hold up (in court)."
Leach announced the ban after two student reporters for the Murrow News Service provided the Twitter messages to the athletic department Tuesday afternoon, seeking comment.
During the past few months, several football players apparently posted public messages on the social-media site that included derogatory terms for women and African-Americans.
The Murrow News Service is not naming the players because of the difficulty in definitively verifying the identity of Twitter users.
After Leach's announcement, several of the Twitter accounts linked to WSU players were taken down.
Leach previously banned players from Twitter in 2009 at Texas Tech.
Shear said colleges and universities should educate students on appropriate use of social media.
"My biggest fear is that if you start banning students from doing this, what kind of lesson are you teaching students?" Shear said.
By LINDA THOMAS Well done Murrow students
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