General Counsel to investigate athletic department free-speech issues
**This story has been updated to include a comment from the university.
University of Oregon President Michael Schill has instructed General Counsel Kevin Reed to investigate concerns about free-speech policy violations by the athletic department, according the faculty Senate website. The report will be given directly to Schill.
During a lengthy Emerald investigation of misconduct by a student athlete, the Emerald sports desk was threatened with having its credentials limited for future events if reporting continued outside of athletic department policy.
“We thought this was inappropriate given the stance of the university on freedom of speech and freedom of the press,” UO Senate Vice President Chris Sinclair said. “So we suggested the general counsel take a look and see if any policies have been violated.”
Difficulties with the athletic department have been reported before, according to Senate President Bill Harbaugh who said he has spoken with several former reporters for the Emerald as well as the Register-Guard and Oregonian who have expressed similar issues.
The request calls for an investigation of the threat, as well as the policy for contacting student athletes. Harbaugh sees the policy as a violation of other free speech policies on campus.
“There are two relevant polices that have been passed by the senate and after long debate and signed by the administration,” Harbaugh said. “Those make it absolutely clear the university should not be allowing interference in student athletes’ ability to speak freely.”
“The matter is not one within the purview of the Senate, but President Schill always welcomes the advice and helpful assistance of the Senate Chair and Vice Chair,” Tobin Klinger, university communications officer said in an email to the Emerald. “He has asked the General Counsel of the university to look into the matter and inform him about what happened and whether what happened was consistent with university policies and procedures.”