College baseball writers better be prepared to be succinct as hell for the next four weeks.
Ahead of Friday’s matchup in Greenville, N.C. between East Carolina and UNC-Wilmington, the South Carolina-based radio program SportsTalk reminded the public that, per NCAA guidelines, any media members on the scene will technically be restricted from providing fans with frequent updates, lest they have their credentials yanked.
This is not a new policy—back in June 2012, a 24/7 reporter posted a similar message, alerting his followers that he’d have to jam the inning updates into 140 characters. In May 2015, Daily Reflector reporter Ronnie Woodward wrote the same, saying the NCAA was only allowing him to post “periodically.” Woodward followed up on the tweet earlier this afternoon, saying that as of the 2018 NCAA baseball regionals, he would have to follow the same guideline.
Here’s the official rule, which doesn’t mention anything about the inning limit, from the NCAA’s “Blogging and New Media Policies”:
The blog may not produce in any form a “real-time” description of the event. Real-time is defined by the NCAA as a continuous play-by-play account or live, extended live/real-time statistics, or detailed description of an event. Live-video/digital images or live audio are not permitted.... If the NCAA deems that a Credential Holder is producing a real-time description of the contest, the NCAA reserves all actions against Credential Holder, including but not limited to the revocation of the credential.
Since tweets are micro-blogs, reporters covering the tournament will reportedly be limited to one tweet per inning, though the enforcement of this rule will largely be left up to the folks running the show at all the 16 different sites of the opening regionals round. Having covered college sports, including NCAA playoffs across revenue and non-revenue sports, I’ll say that only the most ornery of rulebook-humping tight-asses would ever actually come over and give a reporter a tap on the shoulder. Football and men’s and women’s basketball postseason games are always live-tweeted by reporters; to think that the less viewed baseball tournament would somehow be subject to higher scrutiny than the NCAA’s biggest money-makers seems like a stretch. Then again, this is the NCAA we’re talking about.
Update (4:27 p.m. ET): David Worlock, the NCAA’s director of media coordination/statistics, tweeted that “there isn’t a policy that limits anyone covering the NCAA baseball (or softball) championships to tweeting once per inning,” so we reached out and asked him why multiple reporters have posted about this issue over the past six years. Here’s his response:
The media coordinator at one of our sites incorrectly told a writer that there is a limitation to how many tweets someone can send per inning. This person has not served as a host in a number of years and shared outdated social media policies. We just found out that this individual was given this bad information two years ago, when they were in the tournament at another site (but not serving as the host). The information was incorrect in 2016 and is obviously still wrong today. This policy was changed before 2013, when I started in my current position, and likely changed in 2011, when Turner took over operation of our digital platforms. I wish I had an answer as to why this issue pops up every couple years, but I don’t. All I can say is that the communication doesn’t originate from our office.