The Associated Press Sports Editors, U.S. Basketball Writers Association and Association for Women in Sports Media object to Big 12 Conference commissioner Brett Yormark’s response to our previous outreach regarding the abandonment of industry-standard media-seating practices at the conference men’s basketball tournament in Kansas City.
Reporters from print and digital organizations have been consigned to a hockey press box at the very top of the arena, where a television monitor is the best way to see basketball games. In addition, there is limited elevator service, which makes it impossible for media to reach postgame availabilities or other essential backstage areas in a timely manner.
This decision is a stark departure from seating policies of the other major conferences and the NCAA, which all strive to identify appropriate locations for reporters to watch the game and reach the athletes and coaches immediately afterward.
“Utilizing the T-Mobile press box, and not having to re-scale the seating bowls and find alternative locations for ticket holders provided the most practical approach,” Yormark wrote.
There is no attempt to deny the evolving economics of college athletics and the necessity of maximizing revenue in prime seating locations, but as the APSE and USBWA have previously noted, other conferences and the NCAA have pursued this while accommodating the basic needs of media members.
The Big 12 additionally fails to recognize the significant financial investment every media outlet makes to cover its tournament. Other leagues at the college, professional and international level recognize the value of that coverage and provide seating with clear sightlines and easy access to participants.
“Rest assured, regardless of seating location, we remain committed to providing media a best in class experience,” Yormark wrote.
The decision by the Big 12 to relocate working media to positions previously used for overflow was never communicated directly with any media covering the conference or media associations representing them before the conference tournament. While it is too late to correct this error, we want to be part of the solution and are requesting a meeting with Yormark and the Big 12 staff at the soonest possible date to discuss future media seating at conference events.
We are willing to work with the Big 12 to find a solution that meets everyone’s needs. We expect the Big 12 to live up to its commitment for a “best in class experience.”