As More Schools Limit Media Access, Should Your Department Be Considering Doing So?

August 7th, 2017 | by Francis Giknis
As More Schools Limit Media Access, Should Your Department Be Considering Doing So?

Media Access

At the end of July, Notre Dame became the latest to restrict media access to its athletics. Exact rules can be found here, but the basic gist is that the Irish would like to have greater control of what is disseminated in terms of schemes, formations, and personnel from football practices. Furthermore, by limiting live reporting, tweeting, etc., the school has the first say regarding player injuries, interviews, and reactions.

Many are irritated at this development out of South Bend. Richard Deitsch of Sports Illustrated has called for college football on-air personalities to drive attention to this issue to see it eliminated. Others, like Pete Sampson of Irish Illustrated, have reported that there is already flexibility within the rules and that they are not as untenable as some might believe.

As is the case with many college athletic department policies, there has been a growth in momentum around this issue as more schools see their competitors implementing media limitations and feel the need to do so as well. We will see more schools follow Notre Dame’s (and Texas and LSU’s) example out of fear of losing a competitive edge. However, does this need to be the case for you at your school?

Compiled by Ross Dellenger of The Advocate in Baton Rouge, this chart shows that LSU has become the only SEC school to fully close its preseason camp to media. Perhaps it is a hard case to make that LSU and other programs are feeling the need to further insulate themselves, while teams with perennial success aren’t doing so. However, there are no regulations preventing this type of action to be taken by a university.

To that end, we will see more schools enacting policies like those at Notre Dame and LSU, rather than fewer. The paranoia surrounding the multi-million dollar industry that is college football is, to some degree, justified when a successful program can literally change the architecture of a campus.

However, athletic departments must be careful not to jump on this bandwagon prematurely and unnecessarily. As discussed before in this space, utilizing local media is an outlet few universities can afford to spurn. Furthermore, with the burden of content and narrative development suddenly the purview of the athletic department, extensive resources will need to be mustered to ensure coverage that will grow a fanbase. LSU will release its own videos and pictures during the media blackout, but their athletic department has a budget comparable to some Balkan states.

It will be tempting for more athletic departments to follow in Notre Dame’s footsteps by limiting or banning media coverage of practices. While this is their prerogative, other athletic departments must be wary before following along. Local and national media coverage is often a key component of growing your university’s brand, and few programs have the wherewithal to produce comparable content. Before deciding greater privacy is the way your school wants to go, be sure to weigh the true necessity against the sacrifices required.

About Francis Giknis
Francis Giknis joins College AD as a contributor after seven years of teaching and coaching throughout the east coast. Prior to writing for College AD, Francis earned an English degree from the College of William and Mary and his masters at Columbia University. Raised in a cable television-free household, he remembers binge-watching ESPN while on vacations away from home, much to the chagrin of his parents.

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