Twitter CEO tweets UM recruits

Minor NCAA violation alleged

Dick Costolo, CEO of Twitter, arrives at the Allen & Company Sun Valley Conference in Sun Valley, Idaho.
Dick Costolo, CEO of Twitter, arrives at the Allen & Company Sun Valley Conference in Sun Valley, Idaho.

A message made up of less than 140 characters could mean a bit of trouble for the Michigan football program.

Two days after the chief executive officer of Twitter sent a congratulatory message to a Michigan football recruit, an athletic department spokesman acknowledged that the exchange could constitute a secondary NCAA violation.

“We are aware of a potential minor violation involving social media,” David Ablauf, Michigan’s associate athletic director for media and public relations, wrote in an email to the Blade. “We will handle it as appropriate.”

A day after George Campbell announced on Twitter that he had made a verbal commitment to join the Wolverines in the fall of 2015, Twitter CEO Dick Costolo reached out to the five-star wide receiver from Tarpon Springs, Fla., and Wilton Speight, a quarterback and a 2014 commit from Virginia.

He responded to them with one statement Sunday:

“@WiltonSpeight @GeorgeCampbell0 amazing! #goblue”

The two recruits responded to Costolo, who is a 1985 graduate of Michigan and gave its commencement speech in April.

Costolo did not address the topic Monday on his Twitter account and Twitter has not responded to a request for comment. Twitter has become one of the world’s top social networking Web sites, and on its Web site, Twitter states that it has more than 200 million users worldwide on a monthly basis.

The violation is minor in the grand scheme of the NCAA’s bureaucracy; on its Web site,, the governing body for college athletics states that “only institutional staff members are permitted to recruit prospective student-athletes. Generally, NCAA rules prohibit anyone else from contacting (calling, writing or in-person contact) prospects or the prospect’s relatives or guardian for recruiting purposes.”

Costolo is considered a Michigan booster; the NCAA has a broad definition for a “booster,” including someone who has been involved in promoting athletics, someone who has been requested to assist in the recruiting process or someone who has made financial contributions to an athletic department or university organization. 

Michigan received a verbal commitment Monday from Damien Harris, a running back from Kentucky — its second 2015 verbal commitment in three days, as he joins Campbell.

In 2012 at Madison Southern High School in Berea, Ky., Harris had 1,778 yards and 35 touchdowns on 144 carries.

247Sports ranks Harris as the No. 10 running back in the country for 2015, while ESPN ranks Harris as the No. 20 player in the country for 2015.

Contact Rachel Lenzi at:, 419-724-6510, or on Twitter @RLenziBlade.