published Sunday, May 12th, 2013

UTC AD's first hire goes on first tweet

  • photo
    Former Ohio State coach Jim Foster is the coach of the UTC women's basketball team.
    Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

Interim coach Katie Burrows learned that Jim Foster would be the next University of Tennessee at Chattanooga women's basketball coach the old-fashioned way.

The boss told her in person, face to face.

Almost all of the other UTC coaches who have offices on the fourth floor of McKenzie Arena, including interim men's basketball coach Casey Long, awaited the news in the same manner as everybody else interested -- through social media.

New UTC athletic director David Blackburn used Twitter to announce: "It is our pleasure to welcome Hall of Fame Coach Jim Foster as our new Head Women's Basketball Coach," with a link to the school's official athletic website.

"My first tweet was the other day," Blackburn said. "I did it. Jay [Blackman] showed me the technology side of it, but I wrote it."

Blackburn said he likely will announce the hiring of the next men's basketball coach in the same manner.

But he still has to decide which person he will tweet about -- be it VCU assistant Will Wade, Alabama assistant John Brannen, former Georgia coach Dennis Felton or somebody whose name hasn't surfaced yet -- before he puts his fingers to a keyboard.

"There's approximately five," Blackburn said Friday about the number of candidates left in the pool. "We've still got some decisions to make and then get an offer out in the next three, four or five days."

Then he will alert the world in 140 characters or less.

Blackburn, by his own admission, is no expert on Twitter, Facebook or any other social-media tool. But he's equipped with an iPhone that puts the 1990 Tennessee graduate in position to use Twitter and grow the brand of UTC athletics.

He just has to learn how to use it more.

Blackburn's daughter, Emma, who turned 16 years old Friday and had her party Saturday, created her father's Twitter account (@DBlackburnUTC) and added a few of her own touches.

In addition to following UTC folks on Twitter such as Matt Pope, Ben Messerli and Travis Filar, Emma Blackburn ensured that her father could keep up with celebrities such as Justin Bieber and Justin Timberlake.

David Blackburn made the decision to announce the hiring of Foster on Twitter.

"Being in this role, I think there's a need to use social media at times because it's a great way to send a message to the world when necessary," said Blackburn, who had about 425 followers as of Saturday at noon. "I don't want to be out there just blabbing, because people have enough nonsense that they need to read.

"It seemed like the way to get it out, and get it out quickly."

Contact David Uchiyama at duchiyama@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6484. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/UchiyamaCTFP.

about David Uchiyama...

David Uchiyama is a sports writer at the Chattanooga Times Free Press who began his tenure here in May 2001. His primary beats are UTC athletics — specifically men’s basketball and athletic department administration — and golf, which includes coverage from the PGA Tour to youth events. He also covers other high school sports, outdoor adventures, and contributes to other sections of the newspaper when necessary. David grew up in Salinas, Calif., and began working ...

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