LARRY LAGE,AP Sports Writer
ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) — Michigan State athletic director Mark Hollis and his peers across the country try to teach their student-athletes to think before they tweet.
Hollis learned the lesson himself this week.
Hollis sent a message on his Twitter account to Michigan point guard Trey Burke, extending advice to a standout who is pondering staying at a rival program or jumping to the pros.
“If I had to do it all over again, I would’ve made it a general tweet,” Hollis said Thursday morning in a telephone interview with The Associated Press while traveling to New Orleans for the Final Four. “It was probably unfair to direct my message to one person going through a process that I think has failed a lot of student-athletes.”
Burke is weighing a decision on whether to return to play for the Wolverines as a sophomore next season or enter the NBA draft. He lamented on Twitter how much unsolicited feedback he’s getting.
“EVERYONE got something to say… smh I thought this was my life!” Burke tweeted Wednesday.
Hollis then directed a tweet toward Burke: “My advice, believe in YOUR heart & mind, everything else is interference. People u seek out is better than those that seek u.”
That drew a response — on Twitter — late Wednesday from Michigan athletic director Dave Brandon, whose playful barbs with Hollis led to them playing golf against each other last summer.
“Mark Hollis had good intentions-but made a mistake,” Brandon wrote. “Not appropriate to tweet one of our student-athletes. Won’t happen again. End of story.”
Brandon later wrote in an email to the AP that Hollis now realizes that he shouldn’t have communicated with a Michigan student-athlete.
Hollis acknowledged he understood why Brandon had concerns about his tweet toward Burke and took responsibility for the mistake.
Michigan State’s compliance department doesn’t think Hollis violated an NCAA recruiting rule related to contacting someone at another institution. An NCAA spokeswoman said the governing body didn’t have details on social-networking exchange.
Hollis stood by his message to anyone trying to gather information from the NBA or NFL to determine if it makes sense to leave school early for professional sports.
“My advice to anybody — our kids, any one at Michigan, Ohio State or anywhere else — is to reach out to people who will help you make a rational decision instead of listening to people reaching for you with their own agendas,” Hollis said. “I reacted in compassion to a tweet from what seemed like a frustrated athlete and not because of the rivalry we have with Michigan.”
Hollis is the chairman of the NCAA Division I Amateurism Cabinet, serves on the men’s basketball issues committee and will join the NCAA Division I men’s basketball committee later this year. Hollis said he’s trying to fix a system set up to assist student-athletes thinking about going pro early, adding he recently gathered in Indianapolis with agents, coaches and student-athletes to talk about improving the process.
“We’re hoping to put together an advisory board that would include former student-athletes who have gone through it,” he said. “We’re trying to help 18- to 20-year-old kids avoid being influenced by people who may have a bias such as agents, AAU coaches, friends, college coaches and the media.”
Burke’s father said he was unaffected on Hollis’ tweet about his son, who hails from Columbus, Ohio.
“I think he probably thought he was just helping Trey out,” Benji Burke said in a telephone interview Thursday. “Trey is coming home this weekend and we’ll sit down and discuss what we know so far.
“We’re going through coach (John) Beilein to get all the information we can. Trey loves Ann Arbor, but he’s a 19-year-old kid who doesn’t want to not look at what’s on the table.”
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