NCAA removes blogging reporter from press box

KENTUCKY — A Louisville newspaper is considering legal action against the University of Louisville after a National Collegiate Athletic Association official ejected one of the paper’s journalists reporting from the press box during a College World Series baseball playoff game.

Brian Bennett, the The Louisville Courier-Journal reporter assigned to periodically update his blog from the press box, was removed for posting commentary on plays during the University of Louisville’s 20-2 victory over the Oklahoma State Cowboys, according to his June 10 blog entry titled “Ejected and Dejected.”

Courier-Journal Attorney Jon Fleischaker said in a phone interview that the NCAA is using its power to issue press credentials to tamper with freedom of the press.

“It’s a real question that we’re being deprived our right to report within the First Amendment from a public facility,” Fleischaker said in Bennett’s blog. “Once a player hits a home run, that’s a fact. It’s on TV; everybody sees it. [The NCAA] can’t copyright that fact.”

Fleischaker said the newspaper plans to decide whether to file a lawsuit against the university and the NCAA within the next 10 days.

About an hour before the game started June 8, university officials sent a memo around the press box, reminding reporters that “any blog that has action photos or game reports, including play-by-play, scores or any in-game updates, is specifically prohibited.”

“…Any statistical or other live representation of the Super Regional games falls under the exclusive broadcasting and Internet rights granted to the NCAA’s official rights holders and therefore is not allowed by any other entity,” the memo said, according to Bennett’s blog.

But Fleischaker said Bennett’s entries did not meet those criteria.

“The blog wasn’t a simulcast or a recreation of the game. It was an analysis,” he said in Bennett’s blog.

Bennett’s blog entry has received more 20 comments in the past week. Some posts support him or scold the NCAA. Others, however, assert Bennett was in the wrong.

Whatever legal action the paper takes, Bennett said in a phone interview that he was “just doing what [he] was told to do.”

“My opinion is really not that important,” he said.

The veteran sports journalist wrote in his blog, “I hate that this in some small way detracted from what was an otherwise truly remarkable day for U of L baseball.”

By Jenny Redden, SPLC staff writer