By Anna Meany–
The University of Kentucky Athletics Program requires all members of the press to contact players through Media Relations. And apparently, attempting to interview them otherwise will result in complete loss of interviewing privileges. Aaron Smith, writer for UK’s college paper, the Kentucky Kernel, contacted two walkon UK basketball players and asked for interviews, unknowingly jeopardizing the publication.
UK Athletics temporarily repealed the Kernel’s access to basketball interviews, which were being offered to them for the first time ever this basketball season. His off-the-record tactics may have penalized the paper, but it’s attracting attention nationwide. The infringement of first amendment rights is a topic sensitive to reporters.
The freedom of speech and press may not be clearly defined in the constitution, but that doesn’t give private groups the right to define it themselves.
Like most journalists, I despise the strict regulations of the press. At the Louisville Cardinal’s office, we must also make arrangements through the Athletic Director to interview sports players. It’s not uncommon for athletic offices to have this policy; however, I completely disagree with their intent. It’s true that attaining an interview with a basketball player, especially a very talented one, is something that every reporter wants.
While I think Smith did not use his best judgment in trying to get the interview by avoiding the media relations office, I believe the athletics department’s decision was much more unreasonable. It angers me that, if I saw a basketball player on the street, I couldn’t ask him a few questions about the game coming up. What kind of sketchy athletic office won’t let their players talk freely?
What if the Louisville Cardinal was punished like that? We’re certainly not trying to lose our privileges.
Denying a student rights to interviewing basketball players, especially since basketball is so important to UK students, is unjust to the supposed crime.
The UK Associate Athletic Director of Media Relations, DeWayne Peevy, called the interviews a “reward, basically, a preferred group of people to give them special access.”
And because of Smith’s innocent attempt to attain an interview, this “reward” was been taken away.
Illustration by Michael Layman/The Louisville Cardinal