LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) — A reporter from the student newspaper at the University of Kentucky has been banned from a media event with basketball players.
DeWayne Peevy, who is UK’s associate athletics director for media relations, told the Lexington Herald-Leader that the basketball writer for the Kernel broke an unwritten policy barring reporters from interviewing student-athletes without first going through media relations (http://bit.ly/rjkwQm).
Peevy said that’s why he rescinded an invitation to an event where media can interview players. Kentucky First Amendment lawyer Jon Fleischaker said it "is so clearly a violation of First Amendment rights for the university to condition access on gathering or publishing information the way the university wants you to do it.”
Peevy says the student newspaper’s access for the season is not being pulled and it will get access to the players later.
The dispute started when Kernel sportswriter and managing editor Aaron Smith called students Brian Long and Sam Malone to confirm postings that they were walk-ons to the basketball team.
"He only asked the question, ‘Are you a walk-on on the basketball team?”’ Kernel editor in chief Taylor Moak said. "They said yes. He said, ‘Would you be willing to talk now or later today?’ and they said no.”
Peevy said it was the second question that crossed the line. He said there is an "understanding between the media members and the University of Kentucky,” to allow student-athletes to be students first and not "be bombarded with interview requests constantly.”
Moak said Smith shouldn’t be "punished for calling a student-athlete, because we’re students, too. ... It wasn’t like UK had come out and said we have these two new walk-ons.”
Fleischaker said banning Smith from the event makes it clear that Peevy "took action because he didn’t like what was published.”
"That’s the essence of it,” he said. "There’s no way around it. He shouldn’t do that.” ——— Information from: Lexington Herald-Leader, http://www.kentucky.com