Found September 12, 2013 on
It's not surprising that various big-time coaches have developed long-running feuds with particular media figures, but what's remarkable is when newspaper publishers take the coach's side. That's apparently what's happened at The State, a McClatchy-owned daily newspaper in Columbia, South Carolina. South Carolina football coach Steve Spurrier has a long-running feud with State sports columnist Ron Morris, going as far as to refuse to talk to reporters while Morris was in the room in 2011 and refusing to take questions from anyone in 2012 on suspicion Morris was planting questions with other reporters. Has Morris' paper gone to bat for him? Nope.
According to Jim Romenesko's sources, publisher Henry Haith III "made his veteran columnist agree in writing that he would never again write about Gamecocks football or talk about the USC program on TV and radio shows." That's not being received well by Morris' colleagues and other journalists. From Romenesko:
“It was a journalism restraining order,” said one of Morris’s ex-colleagues.
A sports reporter from another newspaper – he suggested I write this piece – told me: “It’s pretty common knowledge around the area that this happened, and a lot of media types, myself included, are pretty upset at the kowtowing by the publisher there.” ...
Publisher Haitz wasn’t a Morris fan, though; he wanted his columnist fired. Executive editor Mark Lett talked him out of it, though, according to sources. There were no legitimate grounds for dismissal, the publisher was told.
Lett “has basically protected Ron’s job,” says one of Morris’s friends. “He’s had the guts to stand up to the publisher” when Haitz wanted Morris pink-slipped. “This is not a Mark Lett problem; if anything he’s been a protector.”
Morris kept his job, but he was told he could no longer attend Spurrier’s press conferences. He was also ordered by the publisher to write an apology column. That ran last Sept. 26. ...
Early this year, publisher Haitz – a Penn State graduate – told Morris he could no longer write about Gamecocks football.
“They made him sign a long list of things he could not do,” said a Morris friend.
“The fans there see [Morris's removal from the beat] as a big victory,” said the Washington Post’s Babb. “It looks like the great Steve Spurrier took him down. It’s a very humiliating episode for journalism. …What if somebody at Mississippi State figures out it’s that easy” to get a writer removed from a beat?
Yeah, none of that looks particularly good for the integrity of journalism. Here are some notable Twitter reactions to the news:
Would advise any young sports journalist who cares about the profession not to work for @thestate. Very clear who runs the sports dept.
— Richard Deitsch (@richarddeitsch) September 12, 2013
Regarding last tweet: I worked with Ron Morris. Standup guy. Hate that the paper is reportedly throwing him under the bus like this.
— Kendall Matthews (@ka_matthews) September 12, 2013
@CarterthePower when you see Ron Morris at State demoted for taking on Spurrier hard to blame SEC media for being soft & protecting jobs
— Chadd Scott (@ChaddScott) September 12, 2013
The State should be ashamed “@StevePoliti: I don't know Ron Morris, but I know this is makes me sick to my stomach. http://t.co/8J2PN9DnzL”
— Jason Marenda (@jrmarenda) September 12, 2013
No real problem with Spurrier complaining about Ron Morris. Coaches complain. I have a problem with The State's publisher lacking a spine.
— Andy Staples (@Andy_Staples) September 12, 2013
That last point from Staples is crucial. While some of Spurrier's actions with regard to Morris in the past, including refusing to talk while he was in the room, are certainly questionable, a coach is more than free to complain about any media member they like. The problem occurs when the publisher is caving to the coach's demands. Moreover, the story gets even worse when you hear that Haitz then hired a guy who's a proud South Carolina "superfan" partly at Spurrier's recommendation:
In late August, The State added longtime Gamecocks football reporter and self-described superfan Glenn Snyder to its sports pages. (He’s a contract writer, not a staffer. Snyder previously reported for a publication that’s sent to USC sports booster-club members.)
“I’ve now seen 343 South Carolina [football] games in a row,” the 67-year-old Snyder told me. “I love the University of South Carolina. I love Steve Spurrier. …Coach Spurrier and I have become friends.” (He noted that Spurrier often drops his name during press conferences.)
Spurrier told me that he helped “Superfan” Snyder get his job at The State.
“I did call The State newspaper and put in a good word for him, and they hired him,” the coach said. He added that he talked to publisher Haitz, who is “good friends with [longtime Gamecock Radio Network announcer] Tommy Suggs. I met [Haitz] through Tommy.”
So, Steve Spurrier is telling a paper who should and shouldn't cover his football program, and the paper is listening. Yeah, that's not a great moment for journalism.
BEST OF MAXIM
Steve Spurrier aparently doesn't want columnist Ron Morris to write about his team. This being South Carolina, the college football coach reportedly got his wish.
Morris, a respected columnist for The State newspaper in Columbia, S.C., was banned by his publisher from covering the Gamecocks, Jim Romenesko reports. Morris, who has angered Spurrier in the past few years with his...
Steve Spurrier didn’t win this one after all.
South Carolina football coach Steve Spurrier apparently didn’t like or appreciate how one local columnist was treating him and his program. The writer in question is Ron Morris of The State newspaper, and Ron Morris was told by the newspaper’s management not to write about Steve Spurrier’s program again and was removed from covering...
Steve Spurrier doesn’t want columnist Ron Morris to write about his team. This being South Carolina, the college football coach got his wish.
Morris, a respected columnist for The State newspaper in Columbia, S.C., was banned in writing by his publisher from covering the Gamecocks, Jim Romenesko reports. Morris, who has angered Spurrier in the past few years with his critical columns...
Lost Letterman reports that Ron Morris — a columnist from The State in Columbia, SC, has been banned from covering the Gamecocks. Like he can't write about them...at all:
Back in 2011, South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier grew so upset with Ron Morris — a columnist from The State — that he refused to answer anyone’s questions at a press conference as long as Morris...
Earlier this week, we shared with you a surprising report about a South Carolina newspaper writer being banned from covering Gamecocks football. Ron Morris, who is a columnist for The State, has developed a poor relationship with Steve Spurrier over the years because of Morris’ tendency to criticize the South Carolina football team. Spurrier once […]
Yesterday we wrote up, The McClatchy Company has no balls and Stever Spurrier is a Douchejuice. This morning TBL writes up, Steve Spurrier is Gonna Be Pissed: Newspaper Changes Mind, Will Let Columnist Cover South Carolina and presents the internal memo:
Colleagues, I assume you are familiar with articles and talk about The State, Steve Spurrier and Ron Morris. Please know this...
South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier discussed Vanderbilt on Tuesday. Look inside to read what the Ole ball coach had to say.
A little over two years ago, South Carolina football coach Steve Spurrier went on one of his most epic rants to date when he refused to answer questions during his press conference as long as a certain reporter was in the room. That beat writer was The State’s Ron Morris, and apparently Spurrier no longer […]
No. 13 South Carolina is facing a back-to-the-wall situation and Steve Spurrier hopes his Gamecocks respond in against Vanderbilt on Saturday night.
The Gamecocks (1-1, 0-1 Southeastern Conference) must defeat the Commodores (1-1, 0-1) or risk falling into a 0-2 hole in the East Division of the Southeastern Conference, something nearly impossible to climb out of in the rugged league...
South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier doesn't like worrying about his team's defense. The 13th-ranked Gamecocks gave him no choice after what he saw at Georgia.
Spurrier said his team had a "bad coaching day" in a 41-30 loss to the Bulldogs last weekend and now is hoping to turn that around when South Carolina (1-1, 0-1 SEC) hosts Vanderbilt (1-1, 0-1) on Saturday...
This story comes as a stark contrast to the kerfluffle earlier this week involving Steve Spurrier and The State in South Carolina. The Advocate in Baton Rouge, Louisiana is scaling back their coverage of Southern University football after the team restricted the paper's access to the team's players following a story last week in which linebacker Anthony Balancier called opponent...
South Carolina has displayed an offensive surge that even ''Fun-n-Gun'' creator Steve Spurrier didn't fully see coming from the No. 13 Gamecocks.
With a defense led by All-American Jadeveon Clowney, the Gamecocks (1-1, 0-1 Southeastern Conference) figured they'd win the way they had the past few years - by locking down opponents and getting just enough points...
It’s hard to believe that South Carolina’s college football hopes of a BCS bowl game could lie in a win over Vanderbilt.Yes, you heard me say that.Now that the Gamecocks have a loss at the hands of SEC East partner Georgia, it cannot afford to slip up again if it wants a spot in the SEC Title game or a BCS Bowl Game.Now, Steve Spurrier must rally his troops and prove he can win...
The Vanderbilt Commodores (1-1) have the unenviable task of going into Williams-Brice Stadium and facing a South Carolina team fresh off a stinging loss to Georgia.
No. 11 South Carolina (1-1) suffered a 41-30 defeat to the Georgia Bulldogs last week but look to get back in the win column against another SEC opponent.
Coverage of this game can be seen on ESPN and WatchESPN beginning...