Thursday, January 29, 2009

Reporting the news or making the news?

Let's be frank, the Baltimore Sun isn't exactly a top notch newspaper, but you would think impartiality and accuracy would be something they would strive to achieve. Apparently the Sun has decided to just be a mouthpiece for the athletic department. In an article today the Sun reported comments by former Terrapin great and current University board member Tom McMillen that the public bickering between the head coach and the athletic department needed to stop. In that article the Sun mentioned this quote from Gary Williams:

Williams said he didn't understand why athletic director Debbie Yow wasn't handling the matter instead of Worthington, who he said "has never won a national championship" as Williams did in 2002.

"Why doesn't the athletic director do that? Does that appear strange?" he said.


The Sun followed up that by reporting that Yow was out of town for the funeral of her sister. Really? That is interesting because Adi Joseph of the Diamondback was told that Yow was in her office yesterday. So the Sun is trying some journalistic slight of hand by mentioning she is out of town (today) as a counter for why she was delegating this boondoggle to a totally unqualified subordinate even though she was in her office yesterday when the proverbial shit hit the fan. This kind of reporting is worse than stupid and lazy it is downright misleading. It is disappointing for the Sun to try such a fallacious stunt to fan the flames of a controversy that benefits no one. All this is beside the point of who authorized Kathy Worthington to contact the press (no surprise the Baltimore Sun) to refute allegations that Gary Williams never even made. There is some question now as to whether the athletic department was told directly not to respond to Williams' comments regarding Evans, Clark and Gilchrist. If that turns out to be true then it is essential that the University take drastic action. As for Debbie Yow the rumors are that her sister's funeral has not stopped her from contacting high level boosters at the University in an attempt to raise money to buyout and terminate Gary Williams' coaching contract.

I support what Tom McMillen said in the story about this needing to stop but a mere cease fire isn't going to solve anything. It is clear that College Park isn't big enough for both Gary Williams and Debbie Yow. While Williams comments were ill advised and a little too self pitying they were made in the heat of the moment after a crushing loss while he was being circled by reporters hoping for such an outburst. The comments of Kathy Worthington have only succeeded in turning this trivial and worthless dispute into a national soap opera. Trying to guess what Worthington or anyone else at the athletic department hoped to achieve by making this an even bigger story while releasing internal University documents in a pathetic bureaucratic attempt to shift blame is a futile exercise. While Williams should focus his time and energy on improving his roster instead of making excuses in the press the athletic department has no business engaging the media on its own accord and lighting a fuse to a bomb that cannot possibly result in anything good for the University, athletic department or basketball program.

The time is coming when Maryland will have to make a tough decision regarding this unsustainable internal conflict. Allowing Debbie Yow and her cronies in the athletic department to "win" this battle would only accomplish the estrangement of the single most important icon at the University of Maryland in at least the last thirty years. Once Yow is gone I have a feeling that Williams will be much more amenable to stepping aside and allowing a transition to a new head coach and hopefully a renaissance of Maryland basketball.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

A competent CEO or Athletic Direcotr would never let a situation with a department head(or Coach) get to this point.....sometime in the past few years ..attempts would have been made to ensure that the organization was moving froward in tandem and if that could not have been achieved .. the Coach should have been directed to comply with University directives or released...if the Athletic Director was at fault,the University should have acted to replace the AD(as any Bd of D) would have done....

This really is not a unique situation at College Park...but one that has been out of control for some time and needs to be addressed by the President....

I believe The President needs to make an in depth study of the operations of the Athletic Department, the new alumni center, the Terp Club and determine how they each can work better for the students, alumni, and supporters of Maryland..currently it is not working and if you ask those who are not involved..they will tell you that there are improvements that need to be made....and constant PR releases extolling the achievements of the Athletic Director are not the cure....

As far as the Coach....this is an administrative issue that should never have been subject such press attention..those in the know are very much aware of what a coach needs to do ..or not do...and if given the proper guidance and directives and he (0r She) does not produce ..then a change is needed

terpsfan said...

In fairness to the Sun, which I'm not defending, the Diamondback is not the most credible of sources. Also, it can be understood why Yow would defer to an assistant this week, considering she is mourning the death of her sister. Let's cut her a bit of slack this week. That being said, Worthington was out of line.

Esquire said...

I found Joseph's column in the Diamondback to be credible. He checked his sources, made requests for documentation and asked the principles for comment. Did the reporters at the Baltimore Sun and Washington Post do the same? It doesn't seem that way to me. If Kathy Worthington called me and wanted to go on record regarding Gary Williams comments one of my first questions would be if she was speaking with the approval of the athletic director. The fact that there is ambiguity on that issue is ridiculous. To me it is impossible to believe that Debbie Yow did not direct Worthington to respond or at least authorize her to go to the media. I've heard many stories about Yow's management style and I find the idea that her close deputy went off on her own to the media is just short of preposterous.

Yes, it is regrettable that her sister passed away over the weekend and I think Gary Williams should have just stayed away from mentioning Yow in the first place but Kay Yow's death has no bearing on what Debbie Yow's role was in this debacle with Worthington and Gary Williams. She is accountable regardless.

Anonymous said...

THANK YOU for posting this...I've been trying to get this message out to people for a long time. This mess should be blamed on Worthington and the Sun and Yow and her folks should go before Gary does.