Goals & Objectives
Identify the challenges involved from both the SID and media perspective related to the pandemic impact on media operations and develop guidelines to address them for the benefit of both schools and media outlets. The guidelines below should be considered a list of possible solutions or best practices for all aspects of media operations related to mens and women·s college basketball representing all divisions and governing bodies.
In developing a basic premise for the process, we should acknowledge at the start that guidelines will also be driven in each individual situation by state/local/health/campus or facility guidelines. Conference policies may also be a factor in the process.
For anyone who has questions or concerns as they prepare for the season ahead, all who participated in this process are happy to make themselves available to answer questions and offer guidance.
Schools may opt to provide single game credentials only as a more feasible solution in determining media attendance on a game-by-game basis. Regardless, with the seating limitations enforced due to social distancing SIDs will develop their own priority policies in terms of who is granted credentials. SIDs are encouraged to consider a policy that includes reserving a certain percentage of seats for visiting media or, in games of major national interest, national media. Host SIDs should rely on their counterparts to identify which visiting media are priority for credentials. Its strongly recommended that visiting SIDs provide a priority list of their traveling media requesting credentials to their counterparts at the host school at least seven days in advance of the game. Schools are also encouraged to include their student media in their priority credentialing allocation. Also, the same access priority given to radio and TV should also be applied to all media outlets. In addition, SIDs with big demands from their local media should consider a rotating (moving to the next request on your priority list) approach as a means of balance and fairness in their credentialing policies. For those media not able to be in attendance, all resources for coverage without a credential should be communicated clearly such as links to game notes, live statistics, television coverage, video virtual postgame interviews and pool photography and video highlights, if applicable.
The USBWA recommends that any media representative that has gone to the trouble and expense of attending a game despite the safety concerns be rewarded if added opportunities for in-person interviews are available.
With the reduction in media seating and parking, it is recommended that media confirm attendance by a designated day in advance of each game so if plans change SIDs can move down the priority list and offer access to another media outlet.
The level of safety protocols required for access to venues will vary by host school or organization. Most likely, at a minimum, temperatures will be taken to be admitted and masks will be required. Some schools will also require an on-line health information form be filled out before admittance. Obviously, schools should publish and promote their requirements throughout the year. We recommend a policy that provides consistency across the board in terms of access for print, television or other media representatives. Also, consideration should be given for improved parking for media if there are either no or a limited amount of fans allowed to attend games.
Media Will Call
Any media picking up credentials at will call should expect to adhere to everything fans deal with (bag checks, etc.) and early arrival is recommended.
Media Access Hours
The possibility of schools establishing specific hours of operation or access in the media area may be an expectation for media coverage during the season. The concept of an open press area two hours before tip-off and two hours after is a minimum standard that has been suggested. Its strongly recommended that the post-game two-hour access window start after the last media interview instead of after the end of the game. Regardless, SIDs are encouraged to make sure media are fully aware of the time restrictions in advance of games and be diligent in their responsibility of offering needed support in overcoming the challenges media representatives will encounter under these unusual circumstances.
Media Work Room
The decision to offer the typical media work room availability will vary with each school and its policies. Where work rooms are available, social distancing work space will be enforced. Food or beverages will likely not be available in press rooms as in the past. For those schools restricting working space to press row only, SIDs are reminded of the need to provide adequate WiFi, power, security and that lighting be sufficient to enhance the work environment appropriately. When feasible, media coupons for food/beverage in arena concession stands or designated concession stands exclusively for media would be advisable. Designated restroom facilities for media (separate from fans) are encouraged.
Distance should be mandated at the standard 6-foot minimum in all media work areas. As a result, seating for press row will likely be reduced to one-third of its normal capacity which means SIDs will be forced to establish a priority policy for credentials. In addition, press rows will most likely not be at floor level with the possible exceptions of space for radio and TV crews. And, in those instances, limitations and social distancing for broadcast crews may be applied. Masks will be required at all times for those seated on press row or any designated media area. In those instances where the arena has unused fan seating available, SIDs should take full advantage of a possible opportunity to expand media access and seating as long as its consistent with safety protocols.
Designated photo areas will most likely be moved back from floor level to the fan seating area depending on venue policies. Regardless, photo credentials will be scaled back and the concept of a photo pool service is recommended. Schools may consider rotating their pool photographer among area media outlets so all area media can have an opportunity for access. The Associated Press or other national photo services requesting credentials should be considered priority outlets. If feasible and space permits, upper photo positions should be identified to accommodate additional videographers or photographers if fans are in attendance, or positions could be established within the stands if no fans are present. In addition, it is recommended that schools allow remote cameras (set up in advance) if photographers are not allowed on the baselines/apron.
Media should expect to find the majority of game information through digital resources and that will include halftime and post-game statistics. The one exception will be updated rosters/flipcards.
It should be anticipated that all post-game interviews with coaches and players will be provided through a videoconferencing system for both home and visiting teams. It is preferred to have separate space available for each team to conduct its postgame interviews, equipped with sufficient lighting and a hard-wired ethernet connection to assure a good quality videoconference.
Team locker rooms and adjacent hallways will likely not be accessible. Host SIDs should accept responsibility for ensuring that visiting SIDs have the same consistent access as the home team for Zoom or an applicable videoconference systems. It is recommended that SIDs work with media in attendance in providing requested student-athletes for post-game interviews.
To create a more feasible and accommodating access availability, conference SIDs should publish links to post-game videoconferencing coach/player interviews of all teams in their conference.
Media Access/Interviews Between Games
Media should anticipate that all coach and student-athlete interview access will most likely be done through videoconference systems (Zoom, etc.).
These recommendations should be followed by all of those who have media responsibilities at neutral site games or multi-team events. Additional guidelines may be in place for all post-season tournaments.
A special thanks to representatives of CoSIDA and the USBWA (listed above) who worked in collaboration in the development of these guidelines.