Michigan athletic director Dave Brandon said Friday that the athletic department had a fake online persona befriend players to teach them a lesson on the dangers of online relationships for athletes in the public eye.
Speaking at a forum in Toledo, Ohio, Brandon outlined how the athletic department used an attractive woman to befriend athletes online and then advise them on potential dangers of their interactions.
Michigan hired Florida-based 180 Communications -- a group specializing in media training, with an additional focus on social media -- for a presentation in fall 2011.
Brandon's comments aligned with those made by football coach Brady Hoke in January.
"Before (the consultant) came in, we gave him 20 Facebook accounts of guys on our team," Hoke told a large group of high school coaches in January, according to MLive.com. "He had his assistant -- she tried to talk to our guys. 'Hey, what are ya doin'?' Whatever it might be. Well, two months later we're in a team meeting and we're on the topic of what you put out there in the cyber universe ... you should have seen 115 guys when that young lady -- she was hot, now; a very, very nice-looking young lady -- when she walked into that meeting room, and the guys looking at each other.
"Because some of them didn't use their heads when communicating back and forth with that young lady."
Fake online profiles garnered media attention after it was revealed that a man posed as Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o's online girlfriend. This practice of online hoaxing is popularly referred to as "catfishing," but Michigan spokesman Dave Ablauf told ESPN.com that Brandon never used the word "catfishing" in his speech Friday.
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