Dec 13, 2023
NCAA launches initiative to study online abuse in college sports

The NCAA announced today that it has engaged Signify Group to provide its Threat Matrix artificial intelligence service to support the Association in studying and responding to online abuse and threats directed at NCAA Championship participants including student-athletes, coaches, officials, and committee members.

This unique initiative is intended to further promote the mental health and well-being of the college sports community through data collection and analytics.

online abuseThe service will go live this month with a particular focus on X (formerly Twitter), Instagram, and TikTok. The Threat Matrix project will offer various capabilities and deliverables as part of a pilot during the 2023-24 NCAA Championships, including:

  • Monitoring, detection and analysis of the levels of abuse and threat in over 35 languages as well as images and emojis.
  • Analysis of abuse related to sports betting.
  • Reporting procedures for notifying key stakeholders, including involved individuals and teams, local organizers, law enforcement and social media platforms.
  • Direct coordination with social media platforms to report abuses and encourage removal of content and other appropriate sanctioning of account holders.
  • Providing data to support the Association’s understanding of the scale and nature of online abuse and threats in college sports, as well as informing future educational and policy developments.

The data from the initial set of championships covered by the service will be used as a benchmark for monitoring efforts at future NCAA championships.

Online abuse and threats are too common within sports. Signify has vast experience working across a range of sports and at different levels, from club level, player unions, federations, to major international tournaments.

Furthermore, with the growth of sports betting in the US in recent years there have been many instances of college sports representatives receiving targeted abuse and threats. A recent NCAA survey of campus administrators found 10% of DI respondents said they were aware of student-athletes being harassed online or in person by someone with gambling interests.

This project will represent the largest study in North America on this growing phenomenon, and will assist the Association in detecting, analyzing, and investigating such abuse. The data collected will provide greater understanding of the issues and help the Association refine its policies in an effort to deter abuse and threats in college sports.

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Speaking on the launch of the NCAA Threat Matrix service, NCAA President Charlie Baker said:

“Engaging Signify to monitor NCAA championships reflects our resolute commitment to college athlete safety and well-being. This is a first-of-its-kind project in college sports focusing on online abuse and threats, while arming social platforms and law enforcement to take action to protect thousands of student-athletes and all championship participants. This pilot is just the start of much broader online protection measures the NCAA will put in place to guide our longer-term strategy in this crucial space.”

Jonathan Hirshler, CEO of Signify Group added:

“We are delighted to be working with the NCAA on this hugely exciting and ground-breaking initiative to enhance the online safety of college athletes and participants in the wider college sport ecosystem. Over the coming months I am confident that we will not only unearth deep insights into online abuse and threat in college sports, but also help drive real action in this space in partnership with the NCAA, platforms and law enforcement agencies.”

This is an issued press release from NCAA.org. For more information about the NCAA and its efforts to support student-athletes, click here.




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