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.
College football head coaches are control freaks and sociopaths, Vol. 134,543,748,123. https://t.co/Q5Ri1Gfztw
— Joedy McCreary (@JoedyMcCreary) September 19, 2023
Bad bad behavior by everyone involved except the reporter. Embarrassing stuff. Also Lincoln doesn’t understand the market he works in now https://t.co/pwqYz3JDCs
— Alex Kirshner (@alex_kirshner) September 19, 2023
I know @katieryan209 is just taking orders from yet another DI football coach who thinks he’s God, but this is absolute bullshit amateur hour from @USC. Beyond shameful. Would be nice to have media relations people stand up for the media. Alas … https://t.co/clru2j17mS
— Jeff Pearlman (@jeffpearlman) September 19, 2023
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.