The Associated Press Sports Editors, joined by other news organizations, wrote a letter last week to Emmert expressing profound frustration over recent NCAA decisions regarding the media. Specifically, they cite the NCAA moving 30 percent of its media seating for the Final Four “away from the court and into locations which make our
coverage of these games more difficult and ultimately less informative to the public.”
There also are issues regarding social media, credentials and access for coverage of football and basketball at various schools and conferences.
The letter says that the APSE and other news organizations have been trying to meet with NCAA officials since last October. Much to their frustration, a meeting has yet to take place.
From the letter:
Unfortunately, our attempts to schedule a meeting – for which representatives of all the undersigned groups are willing to travel to your offices in Indianapolis – have been met with vague promises to schedule something in the future. In fact, we have pursued this meeting on many fronts. Gerry Ahern, the Director of News Content for the USA Today Sports Media Group and president of the Associated Sports Editors, spoke or corresponded with your office on at least three occasions during the same time frame without success.
The letter notes that “our members’ frustrations are rising.” And with good reason. It shouldn’t be that hard to schedule a meeting, especially when the editors and other association leaders are willing to go to the NCAA’s headquarters in Indianapolis to make it happen.
Ahern posted the letter on the APSE website this week. He told his fellow editors: “It’s important that we as APSE members remain diligent in protecting our access and ensuring our ability to provide our audiences with authoritative coverage.”
I followed up with Ahern to see if he had further comment. He preferred to let the letter speak for itself.
I am in the process of contacting the NCAA. However, I can’t imagine a reason other than “We’ve been busy.”
Obviously, that reason isn’t flying with the people who signed the letter.
Here it is:
February 13, 2013
Dr. Mark A. Emmert
National Collegiate Athletic Association
P.O. Box 6222
Indianapolis, IN 46206
Dear Dr. Emmert,
The undersigned organizations are writing to express our profound disappointment with
the NCAA’s recent actions affecting journalists’ ability to cover your member
institutions’ activities. We hope to prevent further diminishment of our ability to report
collegiate sports news in cities and towns across the United States. The public’s interest
deserves that we work together to ensure that such coverage is thorough, timely and
benefits schools, students, student-athletes, fans, citizens and news organizations
representing the public.
Recognizing that our mutual interests are best served when we act cooperatively, the
nation’s largest media organizations have repeatedly attempted to explore common
ground on a variety of coverage issues. Our requests over the past three months for a
meeting with you and senior communications officials have been met with delay. During
that time, the NCAA has made significant changes to coverage of the upcoming NCAA
men’s basketball tournament without seeking our input. Additionally, our members are
reporting unduly restrictive credentialing conditions on their use of social media that
inhibit their publishing rights and detrimentally affect the public’s interest in access to
In short, our concerns and frustrations are mounting, with a long period of unproductive
interaction leading to this follow up letter. After several relatively minor issues were
resolved on temporary basis, there is a distinct need for a larger discussion.
Tim Franklin, managing editor at Bloomberg News in Washington, who serves as the
American Society of News Editors’ Freedom of Information Co-Chairman, contacted
your office in October on behalf of 10 media groups in order to foster a frank and
positive discussion. We sincerely wanted to create an understanding of each side’s needs
and concerns to avoid further conflict and ensure we are both serving the public interest.
We were excited when your office responded with what appeared to be a similar desire.
Unfortunately, our attempts to schedule a meeting – for which representatives of all the
undersigned groups are willing to travel to your offices in Indianapolis – have been met
with vague promises to schedule something in the future. In fact, we have pursued this
meeting on many fronts. Gerry Ahern, the Director of News Content for the USA Today
Sports Media Group and president of the Associated Sports Editors, spoke or
corresponded with your office on at least three occasions during the same time frame
We hope you share our interest in working together, and that you’ll set a firm time to do
so in the next few weeks, not months. We recognize the demands on your time are
considerable. But, this is an urgent priority for publishers, editors and journalists, and we
believe that it should be for you, too.
We recently learned that the media seating arrangements for the upcoming NCAA
Tournament have been revised, with as many as 30 percent of the seats previously
available to our members moved away from the court and into locations which make our
coverage of these games more difficult and ultimately less informative to the public.
In addition, conflicts that arose during football season regarding access, credentialing,
and social media are recurring in the basketball season. Rather than providing a
substantive response to these issues, the NCAA has attempted to shift responsibility to
individual schools; while the individual universities, in turn, cite NCAA guidelines as the
rationale for their actions. The result: There is no accountability for policies that infringe
on our work and our publication rights.
While we remain hopeful that these issues can be resolved, our patience is not without
limits, and our members’ frustrations are rising.
We respectfully request that you contact Susan Goldberg or Gerry Ahern
to schedule a meeting.
Susan Goldberg: President, American Society of News Editors
Gerry Ahern: President, Associated Press Sports Editors
Tiffany Shackelford: Executive Director, Association of Alternative Newsmedia
Brad Dennison: President, Associated Press Media Editors
Mike Borland: President, National Press Photographers Association
Caroline Little: President/CEO, Newspaper Association of America
James Brady: President, Online News Association
Bruce Brown: Executive Director, Committee for Freedom of the Press
Sonny Albarado: President, Society of Professional Journalists
Frank LoMonte: Executive Director, Student Press Law Center
John Swofford: Commissioner, Atlantic Coast Conference
Bob Bowlsby: Commissioner, Big 12 Conference
Mike Aresco: Commissioner, Big East Conference
James E. Delany: Commissioner, Big Ten Conference
Larry Scott: Commissioner, Pac-12 Conference
Mike Slive: Commissioner, Southeastern Conference