University of Michigan athletic director Dave Brandon was the keynote speaker this morning in Toledo at the KeyBank Global Leaders Forum and during his presentation, in which he discussed his career as a CEO, as well as his three years at the Michigan and the expectations he's set for Michigan's athletic program - including customer service, marketing and the program's culture - Brandon addressed the issue of social media awareness within the athletic program.
During the presentation, Brandon was asked about the topic and told the audience that Michigan's athletic department had hired two outside consulting firms to monitor the online activities of its student-athletes - a form of risk assessment.
One of the two consulting groups - neither whom Brandon identified, but whom Michigan associate athletic director David Ablauf told Crain's Detroit Business was 180 Communications Inc. of Tallahassee, Fla. - utilized a young, attractive woman to go online and contact student-athletes.
“We took this really beautiful picture of her and she went out and baited some of our student-athletes, some of the guys into having an online relationship,” Brandon told the audience. “Baited them into doing all kinds of things and saying all kinds of things.”
The unnamed woman turned over to athletic department officials posts and comments that were made, and the names of student-athletes. During a presentation to Michigan's student-athletes regarding social media awareness, the athletic department introduced the woman to the student athletes.
Was it a hoax? Or was it merely another method to illustrate the effect of "catfishing" - posing as another individual as a means to establish an online relationship? If you're not familiar with it now, Google "Manti Te'o." And in listening to the full presentation, Brandon never mentioned "catfish" or "catfishing" but used certain terms such as "bit the hook.")
Blade reporter Jon Chavez and I will have more about Brandon's full presentation in Saturday's Blade.