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USF moves on Twitter

USF football coach Jim Leavitt couldn’t believe the price of hot dogs and ice cream Friday. Women’s basketball coach Jose Fernandez hit the links at Tampa Palms on June 11.

This information doesn’t come from insider sources close to either of these coaches, but rather from their respective Twitter feeds.

The USF Athletics  Department has started to utilize social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter to update fans about sports on campus.

Anyone with Internet access can get instant news about recent signees, scheduled games, ticket promotions, and, yes, even what coaches had for breakfast.

“Before we had Twitter we could read the news reports and watch the press conferences with coaches. Now we can see another side, a more personal or intimate side with what’s going on with the coach,” said Kelli Burns, USF assistant professor of Mass Communications.

Fernandez began using Twitter in May. He discovered the site through his wife, who works at Nielsen Media Research, a firm that measures media audiences.

He said the site is advantageous for recruiting since it gives potential recruits insight into the everyday life of the coaches.

The site is also seen as valuable for the typical fan.

“It keeps people in touch with what we’re doing — with what’s going on with our program and USF,” Fernandez said.

One student to follow USF Athletics on Twitter is William Pullin, a sophomore business management major. 

“I watch Sportscenter and they were talking about how Shaq was tweeting Dwight Howard,” Pullin said. “I was like, ‘What?’ So I had to see what was going on.”

However, not everyone sees Twitter’s appeal.

“It seems you can do the same things on Facebook, so I don’t really understand the Twitter thing,” said Charles Cleveland, a 23-year-old undergraduate assistant coach for the USF baseball team.  “I’m sure I’ll eventually have to get on it like I had to get on Facebook since everyone was doing it.”

Nielsen recently published information stating that from April 2008 to April 2009, Facebook usage went from 22.48 million people to 71.29 million people, a change of 217 percent. In the same period, Twitter usage went from 1.22 million people to 17.10 million people, a change of 1,298 percent.

With the rising popularity of Twitter, USF Athletics decided to use the site.

“Fans are starting to embrace Twitter as an evolving personal network and it’s clear
everyone is using Facebook,” said Chris Freet, assistant Athletics director of communications. 

Freet said USF Athletics will continue to do news events, promotions and ticket
giveaways through the Web sites.

“We want to make sure that students on campus, fans of USF Athletics, and people around the country know what’s going on,” he said.