Memphis went into the Battle 4 Atlantis as a Top 25 team and came out with a 1-2 record and a label as one of the season’s early disappointments.
What was the school’s reaction? Enact new media policies that restrict access to local outlets and limit player interactions with reporters.
As reported by the Commercial Appeal’s Jason Smith, athletic director Tom Bowen is likely behind the move, one which now closes practices to media except national television outlets that will be airing Memphis games. The general reaction was one of surprise, considering how well regarded coach Josh Pastner is in dealing with media.
It also closes team locker rooms, also a standard practice for many teams, instead opting to bring Pastner and “select players” to the media room.
“This was a policy that (Bowen) instituted for football and he wanted to make sure that all sports abided by this policy,” Pastner told the Commercial Appeal. “So I was like, ‘You’re the boss.’ ”
With any move like this, the backlash is initially negative for the most part, but the sting of the new regulations typically fades. Schools like to present it as a way to “eliminate distractions,” but it often boils down to the fact that they want tighter restrictions on the information that comes out of the program.
Will it fix the fact that the Tigers are in a slide? Unlikely. But for transparency’s sake, fans have a much less negative reaction to a move like this because it doesn’t affect them directly on a daily basis.
For reporters, when the flow of information is constricted and the program becomes less media-friendly, the job becomes more difficult. Problem is, the principles of upholding transparency usually don’t resonate with the public or the casual fan of the program.
So expect drier answers coming out of press conferences in Memphis, and we’ll see if the Tigers can defy history and somewhere down the line point to this exercise in media regulation as having turned their season around.