Ask at your own risk, student reporter

  • 02/14/2008 7:24 pm in

trjourn.jpgIt’s one thing not to answer questions. That I get. No self-respecting attorney or organization would ever let a client or one of its members speak to a potentially damaging situation in an off-the-cuff way; you distribute a statement and you stay on message. Them’s the rules. I get it.

The IU Athletics Department gets it too, which is why they prevented IU coach Kelvin Sampson from doing anything but reading from his statement after the game last night. Like I said, that’s one thing. The smart thing.

Where it goes over the line, though, is when media relations directors attempt to control not only the answers being given but the very questions themselves. Such is the case with IDS basketball beat reporter Michael Sanserino, who on the IDS’ Basketblog recounts his phone conversation with an IU official today:

Thou shalt not ask … any questions to Sampson about the NCAA allegations, or so says IU athletics spokesman J.D. Campbell. From an e-mail: “As he stated last night, he can not answer any questions regarding the recent letter of NCAA allegations.”

In addition, Campbell told me on the phone not to ask any questions regarding the NCAA situation. If I did, he said, I would be taken off the media invite list for future press conferences.

Again, it’s understandable to reiterate that Sampson won’t talk to reporters about his situation, though even that’s arguable. It’s not understandable — not in the least — that the university would attempt to intimidate or otherwise shut out a student beat reporter for merely asking questions. For merely doing his job. If Sampson chooses not to answer the questions, or if J.D. Campbell wants to step in and handle the situation then, fine. But to attempt to preempt a reporter from doing his job reeks of intimidation and skullduggery, the kind of things an embattled program should be, you know, avoiding at all cost.

Of course, one can be certain that Mr. Campbell will similarly revoke the invitations of reporters from the Indianapolis Star, Louisville Courier-Journal, and Chicago Tribune, as well as the major Indianapolis TV networks and ESPN. Hold your breath for that. Right.

And here we thought the shame was all on Kelvin Sampson’s side of the table. Turns out there’s plenty to go around.

UPDATE: Campbell followed up with Sanserino and insisted he was joking when he told Sanserino he wouldn’t invite him to press conferences. Without hearing the conversation, it’s pretty hard to imagine that was a joke, but in any case: HA! Ha. Haaaaa. Ha. Funny one.

(Disclaimer: Members of this blog, including myself, used to work at the IDS, and are close to many of the people still working there. We have nothing but respect for the publication and its people, and, frankly, would like to be in Bloomington drinking Upland right now.)

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  • kelin

    No offense to the fellas who run this website and I know they understand where I am coming from……….I come in my office at home at least once an hour and logon to ITH just to see if KS has gotten fired……….thats it…..thats all I care about now…….

    See ya in an hour…………

    at this point I would take a two week suspension, just to get through the next two games……..

  • Hoosier_Hound

    How did you know what I've been doing all these past two days?

    The more time that passes, the more I reach the conclusion that there is no way Sampson can be on the sideline Saturday. Like you Kelin, I'm just waiting for the announcement that he's gone.

  • jgongora

    what crap. For the first time in my life I'm disgusted with my University. We must rely on universities to believe and fight for free speech at any cost. This in turn saves us from much worse events than just basketball. I lay here with no patience. When I start my own company in a couple of years and it becomes succesfull I hope I don't become anything like these obtuse individuals. If I had the money I'd go to Bloomington, and start protesting like nobody's business. I'm pissed off beyond belief.
    Jaime

  • University Athletics' Media Relations Departments qualify as professional dealers in small time cronyistic power plays at an epic level. Their treatment of students in the process of attempting to further their education on their own time is cavalierly cruel, though not that unusual.

    E-Money, thanks for throwing your ITH weight at this one. (No offense intended, but … Shut up, kelin.)

  • Melissa

    Now a top search on Yahoo: http://buzz.yahoo.com/overall/

    Blah!

  • DavidC

    This just gets more disappointing the more you hear about it…

  • HoosierSmitty

    I think all Kelin was saying was that while everything that's coming out is interesting, the bottom line is we want to know what's going to happen with Sampson, most notably, WHEN will IU fire him?

    Certainly though, it's sad that the university is trying to strong arm a student reporter and tell fans what to wear to a game. All this crap does is add to the black eye on the university's face.

  • JamesHardy

    excuse me…but…i know i read somewhere while teaching a middle school social studies class about the Constitution that there was this one part…and I can't remember exactly which part it was…but i'm pretty sure that somewhere in that old torn and tattered piece of paper that people like Mr. Sanserino are afforded the freedom to talk or speak or something like that. Can anyone refresh my memory on what that “worthless” piece of paper said…my mind is so freakin cloudy with all these phone calls i've been making lately. I'm trying to find a new job for a basketball coach friend of mine…and by the way…did you guys hear why Kelvin went home with two timeouts in his pocket last night??? Well…rumor has it…he was on the phone with Ebanks and his mom. Just a rumor…not sure how true it is, but it sounds unlikely seeins how he's on probation and all.

  • kelin

    No I am not discounting what the University is doing to the kids…..I would love for a nice civil attorney to sport there Fire Sampson T Shirt and then IU suits ask them to remove it and he hands them a copy of our constitution and his business card …..of Dewey Suem & Of' ten……

    I am just at a point that I want this drama to at least be over for now…..and for good. I think the guys know where I am coming from…….The only thing I can say is they very well could be getting there legal ducks in order….that is a gut feeling but I just don't want this to go on and ruin a good season that could become great if these kids can just focus on basketball…………….thats all I am saying…

    See ya in a hour

  • Timmy

    Did any of you ever think that this has nothing to do with asking questions and that Michael Sanserino was being an immature dikk on the phone? What's next, IDS have photographers stalk Coach like he's britney spears? I'm ashamed of the “fans” of IU hoops. And would it hurt you to change the poll so it's related to the game against MSU?

  • JamesHardy

    so are you saying that any reporter or journalist that asks the “hard” questions is only doing so out of immaturity? Please don't refer to me as ” 'fan' of IU hoops” because I've put in my time and energy over the past 20+ years as a fan. To this point, I have always supported the school and players, no matter what the situation. That being said, in my life as an IU fan, I've never had to go through a cheating scandal that involved a coach BLATANTLY cheating and lying. So, I feel that I and all other IU fans that want to voice our displeasure with the coach, AD, and the way this situation is being handled have that right. Just like you have the right to want to talk about the MSU game. I'm not coming on here to chastise you about wanting to talk about the MSU game, so please refrain from questioning my “fan” status because I have an opinion. We both are granted Freedom of Speech Rights in the 1st Amendment of the United States Constitution…JUST LIKE THE REPORTER! I applaud him for wanting to ask the questions that EVERYONE else wants to ask but they don't have the opportunity to. Yes, you are entitled to your opinion of me and others and are granted the same 1st amendment rights; however, don't feel the need to call us out or imply that we are not true fans because we have a different opinion than yours. I don't think you're any less of a fan than me because you want to talk MSU. See…that right there is respect being a TWO-WAY STREET.

  • JamesHardy

    so are you saying that any reporter or journalist that asks the “hard” questions is only doing so out of immaturity? Please don't refer to me as ” 'fan' of IU hoops” because I've put in my time and energy over the past 20+ years as a fan. To this point, I have always supported the school and players, no matter what the situation. That being said, in my life as an IU fan, I've never had to go through a cheating scandal that involved a coach BLATANTLY cheating and lying. So, I feel that I and all other IU fans that want to voice our displeasure with the coach, AD, and the way this situation is being handled have that right. Just like you have the right to want to talk about the MSU game. I'm not coming on here to chastise you about wanting to talk about the MSU game, so please refrain from questioning my “fan” status because I have an opinion. We both are granted Freedom of Speech Rights in the 1st Amendment of the United States Constitution…JUST LIKE THE REPORTER! I applaud him for wanting to ask the questions that EVERYONE else wants to ask but they don't have the opportunity to. Yes, you are entitled to your opinion of me and others and are granted the same 1st amendment rights; however, don't feel the need to call us out or imply that we are not true fans because we have a different opinion than yours. I don't think you're any less of a fan than me because you want to talk MSU. See…that right there is respect being a TWO-WAY STREET.