Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Penn State scandal proves NCAA schools should not social media monitor student athletes

The Penn State child molestation case against former Penn State coach Jerry Sandusky is already the worst college sports scandal of all time. It appears that Penn State officials may have had actual knowledge of the allegations against Sandusky since either 1999 or 2002 and did not take the appropriate actions necessary to stop him.

It is too soon to speculate, but it is possible that Penn State may have tremendous legal liability regarding the allegations against Sandusky even though Sandusky has not been an employee of the university since his retirement in 1999. These allegations have already led to reports that Penn State's bond rating may be downgraded in anticipation of the potential legal liability. If Penn State's bond rating is lowered it may make it more expensive for the school to borrow money for capital projects which may in turn harm Pennsylvania taxpayers and students who attend the university.

It does not appear that Sanduksy created any incriminating social media posts about his alleged illegal activity. If Sandusky committed his crimes off campus on his own time and Penn State had no knowledge of his alleged wrongdoing it most likely would be difficult for Sandusky's alleged victims to win a civil suit against Penn State. However, if Penn State was aware of Sandusky's alleged criminal activities and failed to stop him the school may have major legal liability issues to defend against.

NCAA schools do not have a legal duty to monitor the social media content of their student-athletes. However, there are some schools that are creating the duty to monitor their student-athletes' public and private social media content. I have discussed the numerous constitutional and legal liability issues involved with social media monitoring student-athletes on multiple occasions.

If a school decides to create the duty to monitor its student-athletes social media content and fails to prevent a student-athlete from committing a crime or an incident that creates civil liability that may have been noticed via the student's social media activity the school may have Penn State like liability issues to defend against.

After the Penn State scandal, I find it hard to believe that a school would even think about creating a duty to monitor the social media content of its student-athletes. If Penn State had a monitoring policy in place for its student-athletes or employees and missed any social media posts that hinted at any illegal activity Penn State's liability for this terrible tragedy would be even greater than it already may be.

To learn more about these issues you may contact me at http://shearlaw.com.

Copyright 2011 by the Law Office of Bradley S. Shear, LLC. All rights reserved.