Vol. 45, No. 2 • February 2008 • .pdf version
• Andy Katz: SIDs who still 'get it'
• Joe Mitch: Duke honors a legend
• Steve Carp: Beat coverage must go on
• Chris Byrne: Time to find common ground
• ESPN team to share Katha Quinn Award
• 2007 Best Writing Contest results

Steve Carp

College beat coverage must go on, despite repeated roadblocks

By STEVE CARP / Las Vegas Review-Journal

Here's a news flash – it is becoming increasingly difficult for college basketball beat writers to do their job.

Every year, we hear of the horror stories. Seating issues. Locker room access issues. Practice access issues. Postgame interview issues. And we get more and more frustrated.

So when USBWA president Andy Katz informed the membership of the situation at Indiana with reporters being threatened with revocation of their working credentials if they dared interview Hoosier players on the Assembly Hall floor after games, my first question was: “When did Bob Knight return to Bloomington?” I thought maybe I had missed the news.

Perhaps the Indiana job brings out the worst in coaches when it comes to media relations.

Maybe the scrutiny that Kelvin Sampson has found himself under since he took over for Mike Davis has changed him. In any event, it's not good for anyone when players are restricted from the press.

The seating issue around the country has been ongoing.

Athletic directors are under increased pressure to develop additional revenue streams as they swim upstream against a current of red ink.

Most of us understand that.

We know the economic situation, and it's a battle we likely will not win.

Same with the locker-room access. More and more programs are closing their doors following games. Some use the lame excuse that with women covering the games, the players feel uncomfortable having them in the locker room.

Perhaps those schools have never heard of a bathrobe. Other programs don't even come up with an excuse. They just say no and that's it.

But when it comes to being able to talk to any player, that's where we need to dig in our heels and hold our ground. This idea of two student-athletes and the head coach in an anteroom doesn't cut it. If you're not among the chosen, that doesn't mean no one wants to talk to you.

That's especially true where competing newspapers exist and the beat writers are looking for different angles to the same game story.

I'm not suggesting schools keep their players around for 45 minutes, as is the case in the NCAA Tournament, where, by the way, the locker rooms are open. But how hard is it for the sports information director to canvass his media in the second half and ask, “Who do you need after the game?” Assuming there's, say, five players who have been requested, let the two main requestees attend the postgame news conference with the head coach. And when they're done, let the other three, who had showered and changed, swing by for a few minutes before getting with their family and friends.

That doesn't seem unreasonable, does it?

Many schools do comply in that regard. The fact is, all of them should, if for no other reason than for the good of the game. The more exposure college basketball receives, the better it will be for it.

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