White plays favorites, benches Spectrum
Student newspaper will not attend football road games for first time since 2006
Published: Thursday, September 5, 2013
Updated: Friday, September 6, 2013 01:09
When a team is good, we praise it; when it's bad, we criticize it. But no matter what happens, we cover it – and we tell the truth. Newspapers don't blindly throw compliments when things are bleak. They don't ignore facts, and they certainly don't remain quiet when their coverage is inhibited.
As for the second reason we are not traveling to cover the team, UB Athletics told us that our passes were cut because it was a “budgetary decision.” The athletic department then gave our two passes to every game to the Student Association.
If it was a budgetary decision, how were those two passes turned over to UB's student government? I spoke with SA President Nick Johns Tuesday. He attended the Ohio State season opener.
“I had a meeting with Athletics the other day and gave them kind of my strategic vision for the year,” Johns said. “I told them about everything that was happening, and then at the end of the meeting, Danny White just suggested, ‘We're going to give you guys two reps on the trips to go to athletic away games.'”
SA, which will attend the games only to cheer from the sidelines, will have two passes to every road game this year.
Let's talk about conflicts of interests again, Mr. White. UB Athletics has a $30,000 advertising contract from SA.
“We had already signed the contract prior to this, so it's not a stipulation within the contract, nor is it affecting any of the business with athletics,” Johns said.
So SA had never gone on the trips before, but then you signed a massive contract with UB Athletics and White happened to offer you two passes to every game?
Sounds like a quid pro quo arrangement to me.
Johns sent an email to SA's clubs executive board members Wednesday, which was forwarded to The Spectrum. Its contents, unedited for grammar, are below.
I am pleased to inform you that Athletics has generously given the SA a free trip for a lucky club E-Board member for the Baylor football game in Waco, Texas. Your hotel and flight accommodations will be provided by Athletics. Some food will be provided, but not all. Pleaselet me know by 2:00 pm today if you are interested in attending. I apologize for the short notice but this initiative was just approved today. I would also like to note that no [mandatory student activity fee] money was spent on these trips, they have been offered with no strings attached by Athletic Director Danny White himself. If you are interested in promoting on campus collaboration and supporting the UB Bulls, please let me know ASAP, you will be randomly selected.
Is sending a randomly selected student to the game “supporting the UB Bulls” a wiser way to spend your money than sending a seasoned sports reporter who is providing a service to the students, Mr. White?
The Spectrum tells students what's happening, and the honors suggest we do it well – especially considering we go to a school without a journalism major and without BCS conference athletics.
We will be covering the Baylor game from Buffalo as we watch on television, but that isn't the same – reporters receive live updates in the press box and, most importantly, get to attend the post-game press conference. They get the full story. We need to ask Quinn questions to provide top-of-the-line coverage.
White is attempting to hinder our ability to provide coverage of the football team.
I want to reiterate that I understand it's his money, and he can do what he wants with it. But I also want to point out that this is the students' newspaper, and it's our vehicle to tell you what you need to know.
Johns said he believes White gave the passes to SA because he realizes the student government is “an important entity on campus.” And The Spectrum isn't? An average of 50,000 people read this newspaper per week, and it’s where the majority of students get their UB news, especially their UB sports news.
Outside of The Spectrum, UB doesn't get a whole lot of press on days POTUS isn't in Alumni Arena. White should be thankful he has this outlet to cover his teams.
Is it really a priority of his to cut off the student newspaper? He should be grateful UB's student journalists seek truth and report it, rather than opposing their ability to carry out this service, then turning around and transferring their former privileges to the student government. This is not only a slap in the face to The Spectrum, but it also presents a glaring conflict of interest, given the aforementioned advertising contract.
In trying to solve a problem, White has created a bigger one.
Just as troubling as this whole situation is White's reluctance to meet with The Spectrum. It was easy for us to get an interview with him over the summer of 2012, when he was just starting as AD and we were writing a feature about his background. Since then, it's been virtually impossible. Our attempts to meet with him have been met with promises to “try” from Athletics staff members and silence from White.
It may not be part of his job to transport The Spectrum to games, but it is part of his job to communicate with the media.
I believe every good story has a resolution or at least a suggested one.