North Dakota State University has a fine football team. It has won five straight FCS national championships. But isn’t this taking itself a bit too seriously lately?
This week the athletic department issued new regulations on media coverage. Among the rules: No 1-on-1 interviews with the basketball or football coaches without owning broadcast rights or having written permission; limited or no allowance for local radio stations to air pregame or postgame shows from a campus location; no live blogging from games.
In other words, if you don’t pay, you don’t play.
A few days later the school rescinded its policy after being ridiculed in the media.
While the sales and broadcasting director said NDSU was just “protecting” the brand, the reality was more insidious. It was the first step in allowing only “paying” media to cover the school’s games.
While the decision may have seemed brilliant to NDSU’s athletic officials – the president hadn’t been informed before the announcement – it makes you wonder if anyone employed there actually attended college. The idea of rewarding only paying news outlets with access is even sillier than, say, newspapers and radio stations covering only teams that pay for print space and air time.
Want coverage of Saturday’s game? That’ll be $10,000, thank you.
After the new policy was rescinded by the president, athletics director Matt Larsen apologized in a news release: “I erred in not bringing these ideas forward for the president’s review, and I regret the damage this has caused to the administration, institution and university community.”
There was no mention of the media.
Hint to Larsen and the rest of the idea people at NDSU: If you want “rights holder” coverage only, visit a country where there’s a dictatorship. Sure enough, there’s only one voice.
Here in the rest of the country we think a free and unbiased press is a good thing — for both the fans and the university. You at NDSU athletics probably don’t understand. Maybe you will if you win another championship and nobody knows except those who listen to your authorized station. Good luck with that.