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Hocutt weighs in on power of Twitter

University of Miami athletic director Kirby Hocutt admitted to reporters last month he was a little nervous about entering the social network known as Twitter. It didn't take him long to discover its impact.

Kirby Hocutt Tuesday night on WQAM's Hurricane Hotline, Hocutt shared the story of how his second tweet created such a wave of response.

"Three weeks ago, I'm in New York. I go to the Yankees-A's game. I wake up the next morning. I have some time to spare before I go to the Nike event introducing our new uniform for the Virginia Tech football game.

"I said, ‘You know, I'm going to throw my meeting with the Yankees [to get a UM football game played in Yankee Stadium] to our fan base. I said, ‘We'll do it on Twitter.' It was my seond tweet I had ever sent out -- ever. I said, ‘Canes fans, met with Yankee executives about a possible football game in Yankee Stadium. What do you think?'

"Ten minutes later, Chris Freet, our associate AD for communications calls me and says, ‘What in the world have you done?' The Associated Press had picked it up. ESPN had picked it up on their website. Our local media had picked it up. And I sat there and thought, ‘Wow! How powerful and how fast social media is.'

Football coach Randy Shannon obviously has never been a fan of Twitter, Facebook or any other social network. And Tuesday, he put the clamps on Twitter for his players. Although he was also on Hurricane Hotline for nearly 10 minutes, he was never asked about his decision. Hocutt, however, did shed a little more light on the issue.

"[Twitter] gives us a chance to control our brand and our messaging and get our viewpoints out. But at the same time there is a sense of control and it's up to our student-athletes if they participate or not," Hocutt said. "But then it goes to their program and to their head coach. And there are times where a coach will make a decision, as the public knows, was made recently, where Coach Shannon said, ‘We've got to focus.' And part of that commitment, finishing the season as we all are committed to finishing it, we don't need to be communicating and talking via Twitter until this season is over."

Although he never came out and said it, there was a sense players might be able to use Twitter once the season is over. In fact, a few players made references to that in some of their final tweets Tuesday. We'll have to see what happens. But my guess is Facebook will also be banned by next week.

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