Wait be­fore you tweet

Kids turn to Twit­ter for col­lege an­nounce­ments

Post-Tribune - - Leading Off - MIKE HUT­TON mhut­ton@post-trib.com Twit­ter: @MikeHut­tonPT

Ihereby wish I could re­nounce the ver­bal com­mit­ment story. I won’t be­cause I can’t. If I don’t do it, some­one else will. Ev­ery­body wants to know which univer­sity Johnny Quar­ter­back is go­ing to at­tend.

So, I write it. I do those sto­ries with one thought in mind: How quickly can I make this end?

It’s not be­cause I’m not happy for Johnny Quar­ter­back or gen­uinely in­ter­ested in the news value of the story. It’s be­cause the rules have changed.

Twit­ter has turned us into over­paid baby sit­ters. I’ve be­come in­creas­ingly cranky about writ­ing com­mit­ment sto­ries be­cause now it seems the stan­dard for mak­ing an an­nounce­ment has drifted to an un­com­fort­able place.

Got a Twit­ter ac­count? You, too, can tell me where you are go­ing to col­lege to play bas­ket­ball. I’ll give four ex­am­ples. Davon Dil­lard. Dil­lard’s mother, Kaliah Baker, broke the news to me that Dil­lard was go­ing to La Lu­miere. Dil­lard’s mother wanted him to go to La Lu­miere. I’m con­vinced of that. The coaches wanted him to go. Their as­sis­tant coach, Brad John­stin, re-tweeted the story af­ter we posted it.

A funny thing hap­pened af­ter the story went up on­line. I got a call from some­one af­fil­i­ated with the pro­gram ask­ing us to soften the part of the story that de­scribed a fight that Dil­lard was in­volved in at Bow­man. He was a good kid and he didn’t de­serve to have that hang­ing over him.

We agreed on the fact he was a good kid, but we left it (the in­ci­dent) in. It was at the bot­tom, it was two lines and it es­sen­tially was for con­text as to why he might’ve been leav­ing.

I got an­other cu­ri­ous call later from some­one else. Dil­lard’s ad­mis­sion to La Lu­miere could be in jeop­ardy be­cause of that story, which for the most part just de­tailed the rea­sons for his move. Please re­con­sider re­mov­ing the line We didn’t. Turns out, that while the La Lu­miere coaches wanted him to go, there were reser­va­tions from other school per­son­nel about his qual­i­fi­ca­tions for ad­mis­sion. He never ad­mit­ted. Do I feel badly for him? Yes, but I hold the coaches at La Lu­miere re­spon­si­ble. They needed to be up front with him and his mother about po­ten­tial com­pli­ca­tions with the process.

Lon­nie John­son. John­son started by an­nounc­ing his com­mit­ment to Ohio State when he was a ju­nior.

The West Side foot­ball and track star then backed off his se­nior year, say­ing it wasn’t the right fit. He ended up at Western Michi­gan. Or so that’s what he told us. We wrote about it. WMU wanted him. There was a prob­lem. He hadn’t qual­i­fied aca­dem­i­cally. He might have thought he was go­ing to qual­ify, but he didn’t. He is at a com­mu­nity col­lege in Cal­i­for­nia.

I wrote about that af­ter I dis­cov­ered the pa­per in Kal­ma­zoo, where Western Michi­gan is, al­ready had done a story on John­son not com­ing. I hope he ends up at USC. I re­ally do.

Mar­tayveus Carter. Carter, of East Chicago, is at Grand Val­ley State. It’s a great school. It’s where Brian Kelly coached. It’s not North­ern Illi­nois, which is where Carter wanted to go. He had made a ver­bal com­mit­ment to NIU be­fore his se­nior sea­son. There were aca­demic is­sues. He al­tered his plans.

Zo­ran Tal­ley. Tal­ley, a Mer­ril­lville grad­u­ate, is at Old Do­min­ion. In June, he was high­lighted as the first kid from Mid­west Elite Prep Academy to get a Di­vi­sion I of­fer. I wrote about it. He won’t play this year. The good thing is, he has a schol­ar­ship. He was a non­qual­i­fier, but his scores were high enough that he es­sen­tially gets a year to work on his grades, ac­cord­ing to a source.

Funny, but no one hops on Twit­ter and tells us it’s ju­nior col­lege in­stead of Univer­sity High.

There was a time, not too long ago, when the coach would call the me­dia and tell them about Johnny Quar­ter­back mak­ing his de­ci­sion to go to Col­lege U. Usu­ally, when they do it, it’s all air-tight. They’d make the kid avail­able to the me­dia and we’d all write our sto­ries. It worked out well. School gets a lit­tle pub­lic­ity. The kid feels good. We get our story.

Those days are fad­ing as fast as the print news­pa­per. My warn­ing: Be care­ful in what you be­lieve. Get­ting it right is way more treach­er­ous than it used to be.

| SUN-TIMES ME­DIA FILE PHOTO

Bow­man for­ward Davon Dil­lard, who was thought to be go­ing to La Lu­miere, was not ac­cepted in the end due to qual­i­fi­ca­tions for ad­mis­sion.

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