APSE has sent the following to the University of Kentucky as a result of its decision to ban student journalists from a media event. Coverage of Kentucky's punitive action can be read here and here. The Associated Press Managing Editors has sent a letter to Kentucky as well.
Associate Athletic Director of Media Relations
University of Kentucky
Dear Mr. Peevy,
It was with great concern to learn that you have rescinded an invitation to the Kentucky school newspaper to attend a media event because they violated an unwritten access rule. This is disturbing on many levels.
You have referred to an “unwritten” rule and an “understanding” between the media and the university that all interview requests must go through the SID department. Clearly, something as vague as an understanding is not legally enforceable or should a violation lead to punishment. It would be like giving a speeding ticket to a car driving through an area with no speed limit and saying, “Well, everyone knows you should be going 65.”
There is also the abridgement of basic First Amendment rights to decide access issues based on what the publication writes. This is a form of censorship, something institutions of higher learning should find as repulsive as the media do.
Ultimately, the decision to talk to the media rests with the athlete and if you don’t want your players to talk to the media without the SID office interceding then you have to get that message to the athletes. And, we believe you did as the athletes in question chose not to talk.
Finally, you have been quoted as saying that the purpose of the media event is "to test some of my guys out." This shows that you see the relationship between school athletes and the media and how exposure and dealing with the media is part of the learning and maturation process. That kind of insight is very welcome so maybe you can see that how this type of punishment is out of line with what you are trying to accomplish.
It is because of these and other unstated reasons that the Associated Press Sports Editors, the organization that represents most of the country’s sports sections and websites, strongly urge you to reverse your decision to ban the school paper from the media event.
If you would like to discuss this matter further please feel free to contact me.
Michael A. Anastasi
Cc: Taylor Moak, editor in chief, Kernal
Mitch Barnhart, director of athletics, University of Kentucky
Eli Capilouto, president, University of Kentucky