Bad: Texas A&M-Commerce players busted with drugs. Worse: players take every copy on campus of the school newspaper running the story. Worserer: coach is proud of their "team-building exercise."
Last year we named Montana's Bobby Hauck the football coach who least served the interests of student journalism (he instructed his players to stop talking to reporters, and in response, the school paper began covering Montana's opponents). Well, 2010's got a frontrunner, in Texas A&M-Commerce coach Guy Morriss.
It started in January, when a high school recruit got sick after smoking marijuana with some Lions players. The next month, an undercover sting led to the arrests of two players for possession. The East Texan, as any good student newspaper would, made it front page news in their Feb. 25 edition.
Like many newspapers, it found no readers. This time not because the Internet is destroying advertising, but because members of the football team prowled the campus at dawn, stealing every copy of the paper they could find. About 2,000 in total. Here's a local TV report with surveillance footage of them doing it.
What follows is a war of quotes, each more spectacular than the last. First, coach Morriss said he's "proud of [his] players for doing that. This was the best team building exercise we have ever done."
Following that, attention focused on Morriss as the ringleader. As Athletic Director Carlton Cooper said, "I don't think [the players] are smart enough to do this on their own."
In a meeting with campus police, Morriss said there's nothing wrong with taking multiple copies of the paper; after all, they're free.
[Lt. Jason] Bone said he told Morriss inside the paper there is a statement explaining that the first issue is free, but every issue after that costs 25 cents. Morriss said he was not in agreement with the policy stated in The East Texan.
"I guess I will be the first one out of the door in handcuffs then," Morriss said.
Not too long ago I was an idealistic J-School student, so stories like this still get my hackles up. Props to the paper's staff for fighting the good fight, and props to Guy Morriss for being such an unrepentant bastard and giving The East Texan, and us, some excellent copy.
A&M-Commerce football players arrested in drug bust [The East Texan]
Morriss: 'I'm proud of my players for doing that' [The East Texan]