USC Trojans Jan 2, 2023; Arlington, Texas, USA; A view of the USC Trojans helmets and Cotton Bowl logo during the game between the USC Trojans and the Tulane Green Wave in the 2023 Cotton Bowl at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

The USC Trojans football program has suspended all access to the team for two weeks for Luca Evans, an Orange County Register and Southern California News Group beat writer, who covers the Trojans.

No, Evans did not write anything defamatory. According to the Orange County Register, USC coach Lincoln Riley took exception to a story published about freshman running back Quinten Joyner. USC is contending that Evans violated its policy which prohibits reporting on anything outside of media availabilities in the practice facility, according to Katie Ryan, Director of Football Coummincations.

In the piece linked above, Evans had written about a conversation between two Trojans players, who were preparing to talk to the media. 

As you might imagine, this isn’t the first time that Ryan has voiced issues with Evans, who is in his first season covering the team, to his employer.

Ryan had earlier in the season brought up concerns to SCNG editors about Evans, who is on his first season on the USC beat. They included asking a question when a press conference had been concluded and talking to players and coaches in areas on campus that weren’t designated as media availabilities.

The Southern California News Group is standing by Evans, as they are of the opinion that suspending his credentials for two weeks is a tremendous overreaction.

“This is a huge overreaction to what the USC program perceived to be a policy violation. We clearly disagree and stand fully behind Luca,” Orange County Register Senior Editor Todd Harmonson said.

They sent a letter Monday and asked Riley, Athletic Director Jennifer Cohen, and USC President Carol Folt to reconsider the decision.

The SCNG included Cohen’s reply in their post on Tuesday:

“As an institution, USC prides itself on treating the media as a respected partner and key constituent. We understand the responsibility of reporters is to fairly and objectively cover stories, news events, and their respective beats. As you know, our media policies exist to protect our student-athletes and promote a culture of trust that is critical to building successful programs.

“After careful consideration and in alignment with the sentiment above, USC supports the football program’s decision regarding Luca’s two-week suspension. We recognize this may be disappointing, but we hope you can understand the need to enforce our media policies as we strive to create a positive and comfortable environment for our players and coaches.”

With the Trojans digging in their heels and standing by their decision, several media members were quick to call out Riley and USC over the move.

We know that college football coaches like Riley look to control every aspect of their program, but this seems a bit extreme. While USC is unlikely to reverse course, it sets a dangerous precedent. If another reporter posted this conversation, would USC have had the same reaction or are they bullying a young reporter to try and put him in his place? The answers are worth considering as the spotlight is only going to get brighter on Riley and his players as the season progresses.

[The Orange County Register]

About Sam Neumann

Since the beginning of 2023, Sam has been a staff writer for Awful Announcing and The Comeback. A 2021 graduate of Temple University, Sam is a Charlotte native, who currently calls Greenville, South Carolina his home. He also has a love/hate relationship with the New York Mets and Jets.