ATHENS, Ga. -- The University of Georgia men's basketball team must follow detailed rules when it comes to dating, a study by students at the University of Maryland found.
Students at UMD's Philip Merrill College of Journalism obtained code of conduct policies from athletic departments and teams across the country in an effort to learn about the social media regulations student-athletes are under at public universities. Their study was published in connection with Sunshine Week, which is an annual event promoting government transparency.
At the University of Georgia, must policies are set by individual teams. The men's basketball policy, as uncovered by the study, shows that Coach Mark Fox includes guidelines on sexual activities, appearances and social networking.
Included under the "Treat women with respect" heading are rules stating "Don't spend all your energy in bed all night," "Hicky's/passion marks should not ever be noticed by coaches" and "One. Not two or three girlfriends."
Social media networking rules state that anything the athletes write can be quote by the coach. Players are forbidden from Twitter unless they have written permission from Coach Fox.
Players are also told that their apartments and dorms are expected to be clean. "We're paying so we're inspecting. I can enter the dorm at any time," the policy states.
Sagging pants and braids are also prohibited, according to the policy.
Four prominent Metro Atlanta attorneys weighed in on the issue Wednesday night – Alan Begner, Robert Shibley, Manny Arora and Chad Brock.
They all agreed that matters of illegal behavior were safe for the school to regulate – even issues of personal appearance and dress codes. But after that, comes the quicksand.
The American Civil Liberties Union took a look at the policy, and said, in part, that it was "egregiously intrusive and raise serious constitutional concerns. Student athletes do not forfeit all their constitutional rights when they join a school-sponsored athletic program."
They added that when it comes to restricting social media, "…we do not believe student athletes should receive permission in order to participate in social media."
Attorney Manny Aroroa agrees that the policy has serious legal problems.
The ACLU is reviewing the policy, especially the parts that it considers an invasion of privacy.
The attorneys say the social media restrictions are a gray area of law.
Shibley says they know there's a line that can be crossed – they just don't know where the line is.
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