In latest showdown, KU confronts Kansan reporter

Who knew the University Daily Kansan’s presceint illustration would cause so much hullabaloo?

Following a UDK cover that featured a Jayhawk cowering from a hungry Willy the Wildcat, KU football coach Charlie Weis tweeted his displeasure. Now, days after K-State smoked KU, 56-16, news comes that a KU PR person confronted the student reporter that wrote a mostly mild assessment of the troubled Jayhawk football team.

The Kansan reports:

Katy Lonergan, director of football communications, said she was looking out for the writer and reminded him that he had the same access of any reporter.

Sports writer Blake Schuster, a junior from Chicago, said the conversation was meant to interfere with his work.

He said Lonergan told him it would be in his best interest not to ask questions.

Before the weekly football press conference, Lonergan invited Schuster to a meeting in her office with Mike Cummings, assistant director of communications for KU Athletics. During the meeting, Lonergan warned Schuster about possible negative reactions to last Thursday’s Kansan cover art and story. She told him these negative attitudes could be directed toward him.

Schuster did not ask questions during the conference.

Lonergan said she did not tell Schuster to refrain from asking questions.

“I just simply advised him that if he did ask questions, he should be prepared for any kind of tone in his answer,” she said.

She said the goal of the meeting was to make Schuster not feel uncomfortable during the press conference. She said she warned Schuster to “be prepared for a possible change in tone.”

So KU is not happy that its student newspaper is critical of a team that is now 1-4, losing twice in the final moments of recent games and was blown out by one of the best teams in the country. As the Kansan’s Mike Vernon notes, it’s not the paper’s job to be a cheerleader. As 810 radio’s Kevin Kietzman noted, Weis could have been trying to pump up his team. But…well, check out what Lonergan had to say to Kietzman.

“She made a great decision in not coming on the air,” Kietzman said. “She made a poor decision in saying I’ll talk to you on the record because she couldn’t stop talking. the further she got into this thing the weirder the situation got… he was basically told it would not be a good idea to ask questions today. Everyone agrees on that.”

“Coach Weis has been very patient with him. Other KU coaches i know whould have obliterated and humiliated him for asking dumb questions,” she told Kietzman.

The Big Lead points out a similar situation played out when Weis coached at Notre Dame.

Kansan editor Ian Cummings says Schuster will remain on the football beat.


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