Crisis communication, sports and twitter : how Baylor University and its fans used tweets to communicate during the 2015-2017 sexual assault scandal
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Sports scandals are common, and “are almost as old as the sports themselves” (Lordan, 2014, p. 1). This thesis examined how Baylor University and its fans acted as crisis communicators on Twitter during the 2015-2017 football sexual assault scandal. Working from a grounded theory approach, the researcher conducted a constant comparative textual analysis of tweets sent out by fans and the university. Findings showed the three Baylor University accounts analyzed used the communication strategies of bolstering/reminder and corrective action most frequently but also used apology and diversion (Bruce and Tini, 2008). The analysis also revealed that while some fans supported the university, other fansturned against it. Fans used seven different crisis communication strategies during the scandal, including: scapegoat/shift the blame, diversion (Brown and Billings, 2013), attack the accuser, victimage, differentiation, bolstering/reminder and ingratiation. Unique to this study was how fans used diversion to draw attention to past scandals at Baylor.