Late last night, UK’s associate athletics director for media relations DeWayne Peevy tweeted, “Gotta love UK. Never a dull moment.” That’s for sure. On a Monday night at 11:30 PM, Kentucky’s media relations department and the Kentucky Kernel were the hot topic all over the internet.
Peevy is caught in a national media storm after he pulled the Kentucky Kernel’s Aaron Smith from today’s basketball media opportunity for contacting two Kentucky basketball players. Smith found the phone numbers of Kentucky’s two new walk-ons, Sam Malone and Brian Long, in the student directory and called the boys up to confirm what Anthony Davis had tweeted the night before – that they had joined the basketball team. The Kernel reporter asked Malone and Long if they were part of the team and if they would be willing to do an interview. Both players confirmed their spots on the team but declined any further questions. When word got back to Peevy that Aaron Smith called the players without going through the university, Peevy punished the student reporter by revoking his invitation to today’s player interviews.
The “punishment” by Peevy has media all over the country up in arms. The story is on websites like Sports Illustrated, The Huffington Post, and The Big Lead. The hashtag #FreeKernel is very popular on Twitter and a lot of national journalists are weighing in on the fun. SI.com’s Andy Staples even used it to take a jab at the football team by saying, “Until Kentucky agrees to #FreeKernel, I think I’ll revoke SI coverage of their mediocre football team.” Really? Why pick on the football team? And just now, a writer from the New York Post tweeted, “Hey, @uksidpeevy, I hope you plan on staying in college. Those tactics don’t fly at all in the bigs.” This is Kentucky. We are the bigs.
While I can understand why the Kernel is upset with how this was handled, the fact of the matter is the reporter broke the rules and DeWayne Peevy calls the shots. And it’s not like Peevy revoked the newspapers’ credentials. Today’s media opportunity is only available to a handful of media members for their season previews. The Kernel hasn’t attended this event in the past, and Peevy was allowing the reporter to attend this year because a spot was available and he was rewarding Aaron for the great job he has done at the Kernel.
And now the Kernel is arguing that it’s okay for its reporters to call student athletes because the newspapers’ reporters are students also. Give me a break. If it worked like that, what would keep student reporters from calling Terrence Jones up at midnight after a loss? That’s not how it works. These are student-athletes and their privacy should be respected.
On the other hand, it probably would’ve been better to just pull the kid aside and tell him not to do it again. But a message also needed to be sent that reporters can’t just go around looking up a player’s phone number and calling he/she whenever to get quotes. All reporters, journalist, bloggers, etc. go through UK media relations to request interviews. That’s how it is; that’s how it has always been. Unfortunately, this has blown up and things will be awkward between DeWayne and Aaron at the hot dog table in the media room this season. Smith’s stock has risen over the past 24 hours, while Peevy’s has plummeted – when it really should’ve been handled in private and swept under the rug.
I don’t mean to come off like I’m completely defending UK for doing this, either. That’s not the case. I just don’t understand why everyone in the country is making such a big deal out of it. Once again, Kentucky is the bad guy. We wouldn’t be talking about this if it came out of North Carolina.
#FreePeevy #FreeKernel #LetsMoveOn