We do not cover the Arkansas Razorbacks.
However, they are unofficially the state’s largest industry, so I do feel compelled to comment on the university’s latest misstep.
On Sept. 23, a mass email was sent by a football media relations staffer, announcing a change in press box policy at Razorback Stadium.
The press box, the email said, would close three hours after football games ended. At that point, media members needed to be finished working, or would need to relocate to the pressroom at Bud Walton Arena to finish.
And you thought football coaches were the only ones on campus with God complexes.
For the uninformed, sports writers are generally still working three hours after the final horn sounds. This is not uncommon, mainly for morning or afternoon kickoffs, and the press box has always remained open until the last working media member was done.
Two days after the email blast, the sports editor of the statewide newspaper published a column that took issue with the arbitrary change, terming it silly and in poor timing, considering the bad press the university has received lately (see: Advancement Division).
On the same day the column was published, the athletics office sent out another mass email, this one from department head Jeff Long. He wrote, in part:
“Earlier this week there was a mass email shared with you that included a revised policy regarding access to the football press box following games. I wanted to reach out to you to let you know that the press box … will continue to remain open until all working media have completed their work.
“I respect the work that our media members are engaged in and apologize for any misunderstanding that may have resulted from our department’s recent correspondence on this issue.”
That sound you just heard was the team bus rolling over that media relations staffer.
More times than not, most reporters are, in fact, done or wrapping up their work three hours after a football game ends. But who is the UA to saddle the media with an additional deadline? That isn’t their job.
One day, I will be surprised at the all-controlling environment that seems to be growing on campus.