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Vol. 54, No. 1 • November 2016 • .pdf version
USBWA asks NCAA to reconsider summer rule
The following letter was sent to the NCAA on Aug. 17. According to Erik Christianson of the NCAA, the Division I Basketball Oversight Committee will ask the NABC to discuss the topic at its January meeting:
I am writing with concerns about the NCAA's decision to keep basketball coaches separated from the media in seating areas during spring and summer evaluation periods at events such as the Peach Jam and those that take place in Las Vegas.
It's the goal of our organization to begin a dialogue now so that future decisions regarding such matters can be mutually beneficial to both groups.
I am certain there are aspects we, as the leading organization for basketball writers, don't totally understand in regard to the decision to suddenly enforce such a rule. But by separating coaches and media, the committee has essentially cut off college basketball's greatest source of free publicity during the offseason.
Each July, along with beat writers from local media outlets, the top national writers from such venues as ESPN.com, CBS Sports, Sports Illustrated, The Sporting News, USA Today and others gather at these events in order to write big-picture stories about a game that would otherwise be getting little to no attention during this time.
They are able to gather material in a relaxed and casual setting with a multitude of coaches. This type of reporting typically cannot be achieved in a ropedoff interview area, where coaches might be willing to answer only a question or two on their way from one game to the next.
Without access to the coaches, there is a possibility fewer national outlets will attend these events, and the NCAA's pipeline of free publicity will be closed.
It is our understanding that any complaints about media being allowed to sit in the coaches' seating area were made by a few – perhaps only one – prominent head coach. In fact, none of the coaches that many of our writers spoke to this summer about the rule insinuated in any way where they took issue with media members sitting where they have always been allowed.
Several coaches actually approached media members to say they disagreed with the rule.
It's also true that coaches are free to turn down any media request.
We understand that we are not a member of the NCAA and are not accorded the same consideration in decisions as those who are members. Yet, our stories help grow your game, and all we ask in return is that we be given every opportunity to continue doing that.
We have writers who have covered this sport for more than four decades and are, rightly so, offended at the premise they might act in an improper or clandestine manner when it comes to doing their job during the spring and summer circuit for simply sitting among coaches.
With all of the issues facing the grassroots world of college basketball recruiting, the choice to enforce media co-mingling with NCAA Division I basketball coaches as serious legislation seems ill-advised.
In our humble opinion, with so many other, more important and potentially dangerous issues still needing to be addressed – the massive presence of agents and their runners, to name one – enforcing a rule about where media can sit is incredibly misguided.
We hope you will be open to continuing this conversation in the near future.
Thank you for your time.
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