News Column

NCAA Tackles Hashtags on Football Fields

May 2, 2013

Brad Locke

Mississippi State's Twitter presence will no longer extend to Scott Field.

According to a memo distributed by the NCAA football rules committee, Twitter hashtags will no longer be allowed on the field of play. For MSU, that means the hashtag #HAILSTATE can't be painted in the north end zone, as it was all of last season.

MSU was the first school to put a hashtag on the field, for the 2011 Egg Bowl against Ole Miss. A hashtag is a way for Twitter users to track a particular topic --in this case, MSU fans and other interested parties tracking information related to the Bulldogs.

The memo, dated April 17, outlined what is allowed on a football field, such as conference, team and sponsor logos. Otherwise, "there may be no advertising on the field," the memo said, "which includes the end zones and sideline areas."

The prohibited advertising includes "social media designations such as URL's [sic] and hashtags."

The #HAILSTATE hashtag's last appearance at Scott Field was the Maroon-White spring game on April 20.

The memo was sent by Rogers Redding, the committee's secretary and rules editor, and the former coordinator of football officials for the SEC. He told USA Today's Dan Wolken that the prohibition does not extend to the sidelines or stadium signage.

The memo gave no further explanation for the hashtag ban.

NCAA spokesperson Stacey Osburn told the Journal in an email, "Hashtags in football stadiums are okay, just not on the actual playing field. The Football Rules Committee clarified this rule because it wants as clean a field as possible."

So, more than likely, MSU will now have "Mississippi State" painted in both end zones.

MSU athletics director Scott Stricklin declined comment, citing his desire to learn more about the reasoning behind the decision.

MSU has for years now cast a long social media shadow, especially on Twitter. The school lists 26 official Twitter accounts linked to personnel and departments, and that doesn't include the dozens of assistant coaches and players who use the micro-blogging service.

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(c)2013 Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal (Tupelo, Miss.)

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Source: Copyright Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal (Tupelo) 2013