More Pac-12 football programs are "closing the doors to practice and cutting back player interviews," a change for a league "once known for its openness and accessibility," according to Bud Withers of the SEATTLE TIMES. The issue "was spotlighted last week" when Univ. of Washington coach Steve Sarkisian "announced a policy forbidding reporters from writing about injuries as a condition of attending practice." That "edict has left local news organizations ... weighing the ethics in potentially seeing news but not reporting it." Historically, media allowed to watch practice "have agreed to coaches' bans on reporting strategy." But outlets contend that not to report on injuries "is an attempt to control the news at a time when Twitter and Facebook might crackle with reports from students on campus who see a key player on crutches." No factor has "impacted the trend like the Internet, with its numerous fan websites and message boards." On occasion, a video or "piece of intelligence that a coach finds intrusive shows up, and rather than ban the offender from practice, they're more apt to make a pre-emptive strike and restrict all media." Taking the "other side is Oregon State's veteran coach, Mike Riley, whose policy is the most liberal in the Pac-12." Practices are "not only open to reporters, but to the public." Riley "conceded some displeasure at a couple of instances in which, through social media, word of an injury reached a player's parents before the staff could call them." Riley in an e-mail wrote, "All in all, I think the positives outweigh the negatives" (SEATTLE TIMES, 9/18). USC last week reinstated the credentials of L.A.Daily News reporter Scott Wolf after he was initially banned for two weeks for reporting on an injury (THE DAILY).
FOLLOWING THE NFL'S LEAD? In Denver, John Henderson reports Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott is “considering an NFL-style, league-wide weekly injury report.” Scott “will hold a meeting early next month to discuss the issue,” on which league coaches “appear deeply divided.” Riley said, "It would be good just to have it all out there and not have any questions.” But Washington State coach Mike Leach said that discussing a player’s injury status “violates federal law” (DENVER POST, 9/19).
In Charlotte, Rick Bonnell notes nearly 1 million more HHs in the Carolinas "will have access to Charlotte Bobcats broadcasts this season." SportSouth Senior VP & GM Jeff Genthner said that potential viewers "will increase to over 2.8 million households, up from 1.87 million last season." Genthner: “We’re almost now at the point where anyone who lives in North or South Carolina will have access to Bobcats games through some (television) provider -- cable, satellite or telephone. At least one. Now any holes only exist to the extent of someone’s willingness or unwillingness to change service providers” (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 9/19).
GET WELL SOON: Astros radio play-by-play announcer Milo Hamilton Monday said that he is "recovering from a recent illness and hopes to be back behind the microphone for this weekend's final homestand." In Houston, David Barron noted Hamilton missed the homestand with an undisclosed illness, and was "unable to make" the current road series against the Cardinals, but "plans to be on hand for games this weekend and next week against the Pirates and Cardinals" (CHRON.com, 9/17).
GRADING ON A CURVE: In Salt Lake City, Scott Pierce reviews ESPN2's Saturday telecast of the BYU-Utah college football game and writes the net "gets an A+ grade for showing viewers exactly what happened and why in the final seconds." However, ESPN2 gets "a C for their explanation" when Utah blocked a BYU field goal in the final seconds. TV replays "directly affected what happened on the field once in that final second." The net "explained what happened one other time" (SALT LAKE TRIBUNE, 9/19).
JOINING FORCES: Entercom Communications and ESPN Radio yesterday announced that starting Oct. 5, Boston-area WEEI will split its AM/FM simulcast and begin broadcasting ESPN Radio on 850 AM in Boston. ESPN Radio 850 Boston will air ESPN’s entire national lineup. WEEI’s local lineup will now be broadcast solely on the 93.7 FM frequency. In addition, 93.7 FM will be the exclusive home of Red Sox baseball, Celtics basketball, Patriots’ Monday and Friday, NFL football and the NFL playoffs. Listeners will be able to access 93.7 WEEI’s live audio stream through the ESPNBoston.com website. ESPNBoston.com’s video channel will now power WEEI.com’s video player with ESPN video content (Entercom).