Caitlin Clark at a press availability by a loading dock. Caitlin Clark at a press availability by a loading dock. (Adam Jacobi on Twitter/X.)

Running any kind of tournament comes with logistical challenges. That’s particularly true for something the size of the Women’s Final Four, and perhaps especially true with the added spotlight this year on the Iowa Hawkeyes and superstar Caitlin Clark. But still, it was probably not ideal to have one of Clark’s media availabilities at Cleveland’s Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse next to an in-use loading dock, as Go Iowa Awesome publisher Adam Jacobi noted Thursday night:

Of course, media availabilities in unideal spots are unfortunate, but not unprecedented. This one is first notable just because of Clark and the spotlight on her. But what was perhaps more notable about it still was the response Jacobi got when asking for comment on it:

The full text of that:

“There was no perfect solution to the breakout area but you should know that you are in the minority with your complaints. Caitlin Clark provided media access for almost an hour today and if you couldn’t get what you needed from her in one of her four media sessions, that’s on you.”

The response there appears to be largely missing the point. The issue here wasn’t about Clark’s overall availability. Yes, almost an hour of media access across four sessions is quite a bit, and Jacobi did get plenty of quotes for her for a Go Iowa Awesome piece. (That site, started by former SB Nation Iowa writers and editors including Jacobi in 2016, joined the Rivals network last year.) The issue was about the location chosen for this particular availability.

First, there are actual practical issues with background noise during interviews. That impacts everyone in terms of communicating with the subject. It also impacts print/digital reporters in terms of getting accurate quotes (either live or from transcribing a recording later), and particularly impacts radio and TV reporters looking to get audio or video clips they can use on-air.

Beyond that, there’s the perception issue of treating a star this way at a tournament that’s taking off. Iowa’s Elite Eight win over the LSU Tigers Monday averaged 12.3 million viewers, which would have been the eighth-most-watched non-NFL sporting event in the U.S. last year, ahead of all World Series and Stanley Cup Final games and all but one NBA Finals game.

Those leagues seem to be able to do media events in better locations (and this event is at a NBA arena, so there theoretically should be plenty of spaces available). And the NCAA seems able to do that at its other championships, including the men’s Final Four. When there’s already a microscope on how the women’s tournament is treated compared to the men’s one (including criticism over the Sweet 16 and Elite Eight games in Albany), this is far from ideal.

Again, though, maybe the strangest part of this is the response. Every venue does come with a particular set of challenges, and tournaments like this do carry separate load-in/load-out challenges that differ from arenas’ normal use. Maybe there was a particular reason this was the only space available for this breakout session at this time.

And Jacobi provided the site rep an opportunity to provide that explanation. Instead, he got a snarky response that didn’t address the issue and suggested that this was good enough. And that’s the overall thing here; suboptimal interview locations happen, and if some particular circumstances caused this one, that would be at least somewhat understandable. But the general standard for the NCAA Women’s Final Four should be higher at this point. And pointing that out is worth an explanation, not a “That’s on you.”

[Adam Jacobi on Twitter/X]

About Andrew Bucholtz

Andrew Bucholtz has been covering sports media for Awful Announcing since 2012. He is also a staff writer for The Comeback. His previous work includes time at Yahoo! Sports Canada and Black Press.