Shut Out: Football program bars media access to National Signing Day banquet

THE ISSUE: Traditionally, the banquet for National Signing Day has been opened to the media. This year, it was not.

OUR STANCE: The banquet should have been open to media, regardless of how some people in the athletic department feel about journalists and the job they do.

National Signing Day is a big deal for colleges across the country. It’s no different at WKU, especially this year. We have a new football coach — a big-name coach. Yet coach Bobby Petrino and the WKU athletics department have led the pack on keeping the media out of Wednesday’s Signing Day banquet.

This year, there are 33 incoming recruits, compared to last season’s 13. One would think that fact alone would be enough to usher the media into the normally publicized banquet. There’s also the matter of a lot of whispers about former coach Willie Taggart’s sudden departure for South Florida and Petrino’s plans for his new team. Again, wouldn’t it make sense for Petrino to do all but personally escort the media right up front so he can answer any questions and quell any fears or uncertainties about the future of WKU football?

If Petrino and the football program are worried that the media will tarnish their image if journalists are allowed into the banquet, they’re grossly underestimating how their image comes off by shutting the media out. Most people understand that those who have nothing to hide don’t hide anything. So are Petrino and the program insinuating they’re keeping something from the masses? Maybe so, maybe not. How is anyone to know if they keep the press in the dark?

If Petrino and his football department are concerned about the media’s potency, then they’re absolutely correct. In one sense, at least. The media are a powerful force because it’s the best way to communicate with the masses. Rather than bordering on censorship with the very people who can help get your message to supporters and naysayers alike, it would be smart of the football program to use journalists as an avenue to communicate with hundreds of people it might not otherwise reach.

The media are the watchdogs of government, administration and society. Yes, coach Petrino and the WKU football department are included in that. Shutting the media out will only make them point their nose to the stench and go on the hunt. If Petrino and the program want that, then they’re headed in the right direction.