Friday, October 13, 2006

KnoxNews, injured paper gives interview and Reporter gets Pass NUKED by AD

KnoxNews: Today's Editorial ... the UT Athletic Department suspended the credentials of one of our sports writers, Dave Hooker, for not getting approval in advance for a player interview. Hooker worked through a source within the athletic department to arrange an exclusive talk with Inky Johnson, the popular cornerback who was badly hurt in the Air Force game.

That was a technical violation of the rules that the Sports Information Office issues in exchange for letting journalists have the access they need to conduct interviews and take photographs.

Other reporters covering the Vols have broken that rule in the past. But the Athletic Department decided to come down hard on Hooker.

Initially, the department contended that he had 'ambushed' the injured player on campus, in effect invading his privacy during recuperation. But Hooker has since provided UT with a tape recording of the interview, which clearly shows it was done by telephone and with Johnson's complete cooperation.

Mike Hamilton, UT's athletic director, says he just wants to look out for the 18- to 22-year-old student athletes who aren't professionals and shouldn't be overwhelmed by media attention. We'll grant there is validity to that concern. We don't want to treat these young men and women disrespectfully either, and Hooker didn't in the case of Johnson.

Unfortunately, it seems that some in the Athletic Department have another motivation as well - tightening control of news about the Vols and punishing the News Sentinel for some of its coverage.
So, how is the guy with the long hair doing? Well, he's a pro athlete.

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