February 1st, 2013 at 12:52 PM ^

This reeks of a publicty stunt -- a spectacle. Whatever value is gained from this exercise, the integrity and credibility of those who orchestrated it is undermined when they seize the opportunity for self-congratulation: "Look what we did! Aren't we clever! And oh-so concerned with the well-being of our players!"

Keeping it in-house would have proven that the intent behind the exercise is genuinely for the players' benefit. Even then, there is still a damaging effect on trust. If they'll spy on you for this, what else will they do?

Uncle Si

February 1st, 2013 at 11:44 AM ^

whats the deal with these catfish? We got em all over down here in Low eeasy anna. We don't need none of them new fangled twitter baits to cacth 'em neither

Ball Hawk

February 1st, 2013 at 11:57 AM ^

That was a good prank that worked for a day. Three years is a far cry from one day and NEVER had ever met her in person in which she is the love of his life. Give me a break.


February 1st, 2013 at 12:56 PM ^

...recap of the event.

Here's the new info from the Toledo Blade/Rachel Lenzi piece you linked to above.

During the presentation, Brandon 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 [of] whom Brandon identified - utilized a young, attractive woman to go online and contact student-athletes.

Did anyone take the bait? Some of them did, and established contact online with her. 

The unnamed woman turned over to athletic department officials posts and comments that were made to her, 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. 

Lenzi also indicates the Blade had a reporter there and is planning a longer treatment of the event in tomorrow's edition.


February 1st, 2013 at 1:33 PM ^

Ugh. This is worse that I thought. I thought it was an off the cuff mention to reporters. Instead, it was part of his formal presentation about leadership.

To carry out this campaign is one thing, it serves a defensible pedagogical purpose that can benefit athletes unfamiliar with being in the public eye. But to carry out this campaign, and then to go out at a leadership conference and tell the audience of the naivete or moral failures (depending on how you want to interpret "wholly inappropriate") of the student-athletes under his purview frankly sucks. 


February 1st, 2013 at 1:47 PM ^

...Pete Cunninghamd of has more complete info. In fact, there was no Catfishing at all.

According to Ablauf, the athletic department had 180 Communications give a presentation to the men's and women's basketball teams and the football team in the fall of 2011. A female employee of 180 Communications -- described by Brandon and Michigan coach Brady Hoke as attractive -- had friended several of the athletes on Facebook and followed them on Twitter in the weeks before the presentation to gain access to their public posts. Ablauf said the employee of 180 Communications then gathered several of the posts, some of which were directed to her, to show how easily someone could access their information and use it against them.

"She showed them things that could be misconstrued that weren’t appropriate for public consumption," Ablauf said. "It was a very powerful message of how to use media and social media."

Ablauf said the 180 Communications Inc. employee did not contact the athletes and bait them into saying anything, which is being widely reported. He said her interaction with the athletes was limited to making a friend request or following them and gathered what was public from there.

"She didn’t communicate or maintain a relationship. She asked to be liked or followed," Ablauf said. "I think people jumped to that conclusion because that's what's in the news right now with the Te'o thing and that’s inaccurate."

Ablauf said the department expanded the presentation to include every Michigan sports team in 2012 in order to get out a message about personal branding, interaction with the media and the dangers of social media.

"What we’re tryng to do at Michigan is not teach them just about their four years at Michigan. Future employers look at what they post on Facebook and Twitter," Ablauf said. "You have a lifetime to build a reputation and in a or poor tweet or post that can really hurt what you've worked for and employers can access that very easily."

Lenzi of the Blade told me in a tweet exchange that they taped the presentation and Q&A. It will be interesting to see how DAB characterized the effort in his talk and if he ever used the term Catfishing.


February 1st, 2013 at 6:55 PM ^

the players were corresponding with an actual hot woman--  she just wasn't sincere.

i guess it is a lesson that human beings sometimes do not tell the truth.