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Kent to athletes: No Facebook

Kent State targets athletes with a ban from posting photos to FaceBook. Will the ban spread to other sites or students?

In what may become a precedent setting move, Kent State in Ohio has banned its student athletes from placing profiles on Facebook.com, reports Ars Technica. School administrators have been increasingly concerned about how student postings on social networking sites may affect a school's reputation.

While all kinds of students have certainly posted unsavory images to Facebook - depicting drug use, underage drinking, sex, and hazing - student athletes are particularly connected to a university's image. Sports programs are money makers at major universities and alumni giving is strongly tied to successful athletic programs. Sites like BadJocks.com, reporting on the outrageous antics of athletes, can raise a red flag for universities. After all, it's lacrosse players - not Duke's graduate students - who are accused of raping a stripper hired for a frat party.

There is also a concern that posting personal information on the web has been used by both sports agents and fans to contact students inappropriately. Although it is not uncommon to ask students to adhere to a code of conduct, it is questionable if banning them outright from using a particular website will be effective. Facebook is just one of many social networking sites.

Is it possible that Kent State is sending a message to athletes to tow the line or do they know what kind of behavior their athletes engage in and hope that it stays offline? As the Duke case shows, bad behavior always comes out - and sometimes, it will come out online.