ASNE opposes restrictive sports credentialing

We have joined nine other organizations in a letter to NCAA President Mark Emmert voicing our opposition to new credentialing provisions.
When you think of ASNE's Freedom of Information and First Amendment activities, things like FOIA, government secrecy, the reporter's privilege and leaks of classified information probably come to mind. But if you've been paying attention, you'll know that one of our biggest concerns is sports credentialing. It might be one of your biggest concerns, as well, especially if you're one of the many ASNE members providing coverage to a community with one or more colleges or universities. We all know that local schools are often dominant institutions in their towns; their sports programs drive readership, web hits and reader interaction.

That's why ASNE has joined together with nine other media organizations in a letter to NCAA President Mark Emmert. The letter raises concerns regarding the actions NCAA member institutions around the country have taken to restrict ASNE members' ability to gain access to facilities, persons and information that allow us to cover local teams. The NCAA and various universities are also restricting publication of blog posts and use of social media, including Twitter and Facebook, among journalists. Producing good, informative sports stories is not a zero-sum game; it benefits both the local media entities and the institutions, driving our readership and their fan base.

Unfortunately, we're not sure the NCAA agrees. The letter reiterates our view that the NCAA and the media should be partners in sports coverage with an eye toward producing stories of maximum interest and information to the public. We have used strong language that we feel is absolutely necessary to get the NCAA's attention. That's because ASNE Freedom of Information Committee Chair Tim Franklin has spent the better part of the past six months trying to schedule a meeting with Dr. Emmert's office to no avail. Similar attempts by the Associated Press Sports Editors and others have also been unsuccessful.  

We're also hoping to get your interest. This is an under-reported issue and a situation that will only get better if given proper attention. This problem is important not only because fans need to know that they are being done a disservice by the NCAA and others, but also because you need to fully understand your rights in the face of restrictive credentialing by organizations including the NCAA, professional sports leagues and high school athletic associations. Although, we have provided guidance to our members on this issue for years (most prominently via earlier outreach on restrictive credentialing provisions and a list of common restrictions in sports credentials), we believe we can offer more, especially if you find yourself in the midst of a credentialing or coverage conflict with a college or pro team, league, conference or venue.

We hope you use this letter as an opportunity to educate yourself and inform your readers about this issue.

Thank you,

Tim Franklin
Andy Alexander
ASNE Freedom of Information Committee Co-Chairs