KU Athletics cautions reporter to not ask Weis questions
- Oct. 9, 2012
- 32 Comments
The Kansas football program had a special message this week for sportswriters from the student paper: Watch your step.
Members of KU Athletics singled out a University Daily Kansan sports writer Tuesday to warn him of lingering ill-will among members of the football program.
They disagree about the intent of the conversation.
Katy Lonergan, director of football communications, said she was looking out for the writer and reminded him that he had the same access of any reporter.
Sports writer Blake Schuster, a junior from Chicago, said the conversation was meant to interfere with his work.
He said Lonergan told him it would be in his best interest not to ask questions.
Before the weekly football press conference, Lonergan invited Schuster to a meeting in her office with Mike Cummings, assistant director of communications for KU Athletics. During the meeting, Lonergan warned Schuster about possible negative reactions to last Thursday’s Kansan cover art and story. She told him these negative attitudes could be directed toward him.
Schuster said he was surprised KU Athletics was still concerned about the cover art.
“I thought it was dead until this morning,” he said.
Lonergan and Schuster could not say where the hostilities were expected to come from, but coach Weis was the only member of the football program to take questions during the press conference.
The possible change in attitude stems from cover art depicting a large Wildcat football player carrying a goal post with a small Jayhawk clinging to it. On Thursday Weis tweeted about his displeasure with the art. Several national outlets covered the tweet, including USA Today.
Schuster said the purpose of the meeting was not to warn him but to request he not participate in the press conference.
“The way I perceived it was there would be a negative effect for me if asked any questions,” Schuster said.
To his knowledge, reporters from other news outlets were not warned of potential hostilities. He said he felt the meeting was meant to prevent something from happening in front of other press. Schuster said he interacted with football players and members of KU Athletics when he covered the game against Kansas State and felt no negativity.
Schuster did not ask questions during the conference.
Lonergan said she did not tell Schuster to refrain from asking questions.
“I just simply advised him that if he did ask questions, he should be prepared for any kind of tone in his answer,” she said.
She said the goal of the meeting was to make Schuster not feel uncomfortable during the press conference. She said she warned Schuster to “be prepared for a possible change in tone.”
Lonergan compared her conversation with Schuster to situations in which she had questioned other sports reporters about the correctness of their quotes or their lack of sources in stories. She said she would have done the same with any reporter.
The Jayhawks are 1-4. The next game is at home Saturday against Oklahoma State.
Ian Cummings contributed to this story.