Yuri Wright is a heck of a cornerback; at 6'2", 180 pounds and carrying a four star rating according to Rivals
, the Don Bosco Prep star would surely be a welcome addition to any major program. As recently as last week, it was rumored that he had narrowed his choices down to Michigan, Notre Dame and Rutgers. Then, a strange thing happened, Michigan message boards exploded with rumors that the scholarship that had been offered to Wright is now off the table, and they were moving on without him. Why? No one really knew. Eventually, more and more whispers came to the forefront... could it have really been over his Twitter account?
Yes, Wright definitely raised some eyebrows with his recent tweets. I can tell you this, they were racially and sexually explicit, and extremely offensive to most people. His twitter account has since been deleted, and due to the nature of the tweets, I'm not going to link you to a page where you can see them. Everyone knows how to use Google, so it's relatively easy to find the posts. With Michigan seemingly now out of the picture for Wright, you have to assume Notre Dame will follow, and I've heard that is the case. I haven't heard anything on Rutgers, the "hometown" choice if you will, for Wright. I thought it would be appropriate to use Twitter myself to see where the fans stood on this touchy subject.
I tweeted: Do tweets like that play a role in whether you want your team to land [Wright]?
I received a good amount of reponses, mostly from Notre Dame fans. Small sample size? Sure. However, it's an immediate reaction from the fans that fill the stadiums on Saturdays, and there were opinions to both sides of the argument. Let's take a look at some of them.
: I like when the Irish recruit young men with a high sense of character and discipline. The team represents their University!
: of course they do the higher learning schools all have values if your not gonna live up to them why do fans/school want them
: speaks to ones character, and maturity level
: I wasn't sure until I read them. Ridiculous. I don't care if he runs a 4.0 40 yd and jumps 6 feet. Not Irish material.
: tough he is young and immature sounds like he doesnt have much guidance..Going to be tough to have that guy represent ur school
The first side, fans that would rather the school pass on the recruit, all make valid points. All major programs want to uphold their integrity and image, and with good reason. The tweets were disturbing and the average fan is not going to want content like that on the twitter page of a player their child may be following on Twitter and/or looking up to.
: obviously the content is unacceptable, but its hard to determine context without getting to know the kid.
: YW's comments speak to his character - which is as important as athletic ability. We all make mistakes. He can make it right.
: good question. Big debate on 247 about this. Isn't college suppose to teach and instruct young minds? I think it's ashame.
: Still take Yuri! We need a CB! Kelly will come down on him and set him straight! Let him know if he screws up at ND he's gone!
(1): honestly I would still give yuri wright a chance. Think about it, a good 80% of kids his age do these things.
(2): just read his tweets, Idk what he was thinking. I back any decision coach Kelly makes.
And for the second side, fans that still want their teams to go after him, they also make valid points that I would like to expand on. Let's all remember, we're talking about an 18 year old kid still in high school. A good point is made, isn't the main goal of college to educate kids and prepare them for the rest of their lives? As many of you know, a handful of college coaches have banned Twitter from their players, and it turned into a national story a few weeks ago when it was rumored that Urban Meyer had put such a ban in place. This brings up a whole other discussion, and I couldn't think of a better person to run it by than Darren Rovell.
Many of you know who Darren Rovell is, and I'm sure most of you follow him as well, so you should know why I would want his opinion on this topic. Rovell is the Sports Business Reporter for CNBC and also hosts Sports Biz: Game On
on the NBC Sports Network. In my opinion, Rovell uses Twitter better than nearly everyone else on the site, and has been ranked the #1 sports related account to follow by many publications. He stands by his belief that schools/coaches should not ban Twitter for their players, with the main reason being that it does nothing to prepare them on how to handle themselves on social media, as that day will inevitably come.
After the story on Wright broke, I emailed Rovell to get his take on the situation. Concerning whether the punishment fit the crime, he responded, "Assuming the kid isn't the best athlete in the nation, I'm not surprised to see him lose an offer or two because of bad judgment. Schools don't want that baggage." Can you blame them? Especially Notre Dame, after the Floyd situation last year, Kelly is already under a microscope regarding how he handles players that face controversy, it's a very
touchy subject in South Bend.
"Times have clearly changed," Rovell added. He also noted, in a situation such as this 15 years ago, the primary source of news would have been the local paper, "I doubt the reaction would have been the same. But because word spreads faster today and blogs and other Twitter accounts play the high tech game of telephone that they do now, schools are more sensitive."
That's where the tricky part of this situation lies, with the schools. A single school can set off a chain of events, just as easily as a single school can buck the trend and force people to think differently. Put it this way, do you honestly think that with Michigan pulling their offer, Notre Dame won't take that into consideration when they make their choice on Wright? It goes down the line, the NCAA being a copycat association doesn't limit itself to the field, it applies to policy as well. After one school, two schools, three schools come to the same conclusion and make their decision public, it will sway other schools that are still deciding what to do. As I said earlier, the opposite is also true. Yes, Wright is 18 years old and made a bad decision, but is there an 18 year old that hasn't? What if one high profile school were to stand by him, hold their offer and say they look forward to working with the student athlete on and off the field? Well, that would certainly make other schools think and possibly reconsider.
One thing we can all agree on, this is far from over. We have yet to hear from Wright himself, and give the kid a chance to defend his actions. We've have also yet to get official
word from many of the schools going after him. I can say that we need more educational opportunities available to top prep and collegiate athletes, as they are under a microscope and are reaching an audience that they have never had to deal with prior. Remember, they're teenagers, and thoughts seamlessly turn into tweets when they are given a keyboard, we may not want to rush to judgment given the circumstances.
However this plays out, let's hope this serves as a lesson for all future student athletes.
Kyle O'Connor: @oconnorkyle
Darren Rovell: @darrenrovell