KU Athletics cautions reporter to not ask Weis questions

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.

  • Updated Oct. 10, 2012 at 8:19 pm
  • Edited by Sarah McCabe
  • frank

    Dont be idiots in the first place then you don’t have to worry about this

  • chris

    Great, now the UDK is in the business of making news?

  • Chris

    And the reporter has officially become part of the story. This always ends well.

    • Roadkill

      Wrong. The story is the pathetically defensive nature of your historically awful football program.

      • Brain User

        Why would an athletics corporation be defensive about a two-bit student newspaper?

        Only in the minds of some students who need a scapegoat for the terrible product that’s been on the football field the last few years.

        Thinking about this logically would suggest this was a genuine “heads up” to Schuster, not an attempt to silence him. As already noted, they don’t have to give him a press pass at all if they want to silence him.

        The response to this action from the Athletics Department strikes me as just people rabble rousing for the sake of it “YAAAAH!!! DEFENSIVE ATHLETICS DEPARTMENT!!!!! BULLYING STUDENTS!!! OUR TEAM SUCKS AND THEY HATE STUDENTS!!!!! ERMEHGERD!!!!!!

  • Nick

    The true story here is that KU Athletics is attacking the wrong
    individual. They are not simply telling the artist that he is not
    allowed to draw controversial pictures…Instead it seems like they have decided to tell a reporter that he can’t do his job because
    of something someone else did. While this story touches on the issue of
    the cover page and whether it is appropriate, the real story is the
    false accusation of the athletics department and the fact that they are
    going out of their way to hurt a students career by acting on those
    false accusations.

    • Brain User

      No one prevented the student from doing his job.

      As noted in the article, they explicitly DID NOT tell him not to ask questions.

      Looks to me like the student decided that the meeting was intended to intimidate him, and then thought it would make a better story to look like he had been prevented from doing his job by the oppressive KU athletics department.

      I would love to know what would have happened had he gone ahead and asked a question. Then this story would have been about big bully Charlie Weis being mean to a simple student reporter.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/X66P6I6KC6ZRKJS5WSPGWTUJXA JP

    Easy solution ! Have the student reporters stop off at Krispy Kream or KFC before going to his news conference. Let ole Charlie get a wiff of the food then put it at the table in front of him.

  • The Truth

    A good news outlet does not quote its own reporter in its stories or write stories about its own outlet.

  • It’s not hard.

    Come on. This is so easy to resolve. Weiss’ comments and now asking reporters not to do their job is the chickensh!t way out, KU. How about you just keep your mouth shut and defend your program from these kinds of article the old-fashioned way: by winning games, or at least being competitive. Weiss should apologize and never again address any negative media. It is lowering himself and the program to other’s standards.

  • Dustin

    Wrong or not, Weis is unhappy with the UDK (as are a number of KU fans). This is a garbage article that would not be posted in a real paper.

    If they didn’t want to him to ask questions, he wouldn’t have been granted media access. Get over it. Weis and the football team are allowed to hold a bias just like the paper. The only difference is KU Athletics tried to prevent Weis’ irritation with the paper from being aired publicly. The Kansan, instead, took a tip meant to be helpful and made it into a big deal.

    In real life, as a journalist, you’re going to run into people who don’t like you. If you’re lucky, someone will forewarn you before that person rips you a new one.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100003598372755 Cletus Barsch

      This is a completely moronic attitude. Simply KU atheletics trying to bully a student journalist. He did nothing wrong.

      • RW

        You read it as bullying. I read it as protecting.

    • Dagger108

      And let’s you know how old they are?
      Though I think CW is 50 something?

  • Brain User

    KU Athletics *did not* attack Schuster.

    They warned him that he might end up–fair or not–being the victim of some backlash from Weis based on something that Schuster had nothing to do with.

    Sounds more like professional courtesy than anything else to me, and before anyone asks why the same courtesy was not extended to other reporters… probably because they are professional, working reporters and know what to expect, whereas Schuster is still a student reporter and maybe doesn’t know.

    As someone else already noted, if they didn’t want him asking questions, they would have revoked his press pass.

    Plus, let’s look at this another way–do we really think KU Athletics is doing this out of concern for some bad publicity they might get in the freaking student newspaper? Seriously? It just doesn’t make sense that they would single out the student reporter as needing to be silenced. The reach, ramifications and consequences for a negative story in the UDK are a blip on the radar compared to a negative story from the Star, Journal-World or national newspaper.

    Use your brains people.

    • bigyaz

      “…do we really think KU Athletics is doing this out of concern for some bad publicity they might get in the freaking student newspaper?”

      They were concerned enough about the student newspaper to make a huge deal about a fairly innocuous cartoon. So, yes, I DO think they’re trying to intimidate the student reporter to head off further criticism of their crappy football team. And I think it’s pretty weak.

      • Brain User

        Yes, thanks for recounting the conspiracy theorist take on things.

        It just doesn’t make sense that this meeting was about “intimidation”, since criticism from a crappy student newspaper really doesn’t even register compared to the criticism they get from professional media companies.

        In other words, why bother?

        I can think of one reason to bother–to make sure a KU student gets a heads up about what kind of reaction he might get if he decides he’s going to try and tease a response out of Weis about a subject that he already knows Weis is sore about.

        • bigyaz

          You say “Why bother?” but again, Weis made a big deal out of the cartoon when he could have just ignored it. That directly contradicts your claim that the student newspaper “doesn’t even register” with them.

          But you go ahead and keep serving as a KState apologist. Maybe they’ll give you a job.

    • Dagger108

      “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.”
      It’s just the reporter who says he doesn’t know if they talked to any other reporters. Lonergan says she has had similar conversations with others in the past – as a professional courtesy. Too bad the reporter was too clueless to reciprocate.

    • CaliforniaImport

      No, they were more worried that Weis would make a colossal arse of himself at the press conference dressing down a student reporter for no reason, which would immediately get play on ESPN and YouTube. Think Mike Gundy.

      So, rather than have the guts to confront Weis directly and make him understand that the reporter had nothing to do with what ticked him off, they decided to take the easy way out and try and keep the reporter quiet to avoid a Weis blowup.

      It doesn’t matter the intent, intimidation is intimidation.

  • Bert

    Perhaps if Weis doesn’t want his fee-fees hurt by the school newspaper, he should concentrate on keeping OK State from scoring 70 points on his team. Or visit Popeye’s one fewer time per day.

  • steve04KU

    The Kansan is making a great name for itself! Hooray for making Deadspin! In the meantime, keep on piling it on Charlie -signed embarrassed Alumni

    • Grinch

      *Alumnus

  • http://twitter.com/shmooth2 Peter Smith

    Charlie Weis wants the student newspaper to be a public relations outfit.

    psabtw a sport which should not even exist, especially at the college level, has its own personal cheerleading squad outside of the actual cheerleading squad, but that’s still not enough — they need to intimidate student reporters. Weis needs to go. Cheerleader, Lonergan, needs to go. Then the football program needs to go.

  • Project Mayhem

    If the Kansan publishes a guide to all the AYCE buffets in town, all will be forgiven.

  • Chuckie

    The truth hurts, KU football sucks.

  • JackPumpkin

    Minor college football programs usually get *a lot* of their funding from mandatory student fees. They are essentially welfare bums living off the hard-earned money of students or their parents. Sports coaches have a lot of nerve trying to threaten their benefactors.

  • ab

    huh

  • JustThinking

    This story is news because it goes to Weis’s character and mindset, both of which affect KU athletics. It partially reveals a man who is overly sensitive and overly controlling. If the team was winning, yes, perhaps those character traits would seen as part of an exacting forumula for success. As it is, it appears petty and small and rather obsessive. The story is on the mark: Why, other than intimidation, would the all mighty KU athletics department call in one young reporter – not all reporters, but one reporter – to make this point? If the department didn’t care whether the reporter asked a question, there would have been no meeting. This said, there is ONE other reason to warn the reporter: self-protection. It is also possible that the department feared that if the reporter asked a question, the petty, overly-sensitiv, controlling Charlie Weis would have popped a gasket leading to greater embarassment for KU that would have become an even bigger story. KU athletics wasn’t trying to protect the kid. It was tring to protect the school from Charlie Weis. I’m sorry the kid didn’t speak up at the press conference just to test the waters. Next time, kid, ask away. KU alumni, parents, students, administrators need to know the characters of the kind of people they have at the helm. As too many sad stories have shown in recent months, these coaches are not god’s, even though they are paid as such.

  • Seenitbefore

    That’s horsesh*t. Weis and the rest of the KU athletic department staff badly need to grow up.

  • John Irby

    Journalists are the new Rodney Dangerfields. They don’t get any respect. Blame the media is the game today. Citizens suffer. So much for democracy, truth, information sharing. It is later than we think and if changes aren’t supported to favor freedom of information we’ll be doomed and not any better than dictator- and partisan-mandated loyalists of those in power. Sad. — John Irby, longtime and retired journalist.

  • Cur_Mudgeon

    Whoa!! Oh my, looks can be deceiving. Does Mr. Weis have thinner skin than might be imagined? (KU ’68)