Sports News Without Fear, Favor or Compromise
Sports News Without Fear, Favor or Compromise

Oregon Coach Willie Taggart Ices Out Beat Reporter For Daring To Report The News

Photo: Chris Pietsch/AP
Photo: Chris Pietsch/AP

Last month, the Oregonian’s Oregon Ducks football beat reporter Andrew Greif got himself a scoop. He reported on Jan. 16 that three football players had to be hospitalized after grueling offseason workouts. In the aftermath of the report, newly-hired strength coach Irele Oderinde was suspended for a month, head coach Willie Taggart formally apologized, and the school asked Tim Gleason, a journalism professor and the faculty athletics representative, for an investigation of the workout program.

Taggart is still mad at Greif for doing his job and exposing the truth. Further, he’s prepared to take action. He told the Daily Emerald that he will no longer be speaking to the Oregonian. Why? He took issue with Greif’s characterization of the workouts (that put three players in the hospital) as overly grueling, and said that Greif’s reporting contradicted what Taggart said about the workouts (when a reporter’s work contradicts what someone who makes huge sums off the unpaid labor of teenagers says, that means they’re doing good work):

“When you’re not fair and honest, then to me that’s personal,” Taggart said. “When you do something that’s negative and it’s going to be personal, then I won’t have shit to do with you.”


Taggart, of course, has an obvious stake in trying to downplay the severity of the workouts: The report made him and his team look bad at the very start of his tenure as coach. It makes sense that he would try to spin this story so it didn’t cast him in a negative light. That doesn’t mean anyone is obliged to take him seriously.

Taggart tells the Daily Emerald that he specifically told Greif that the workouts were not “grueling” or “military-style.” Greif denies that and says that if Taggart had told him that, then he would have reported it. Further, he notes that the description of the workouts as militaristic came from many sources and that even Oregon spokespeople never challenged him on that point.

Gleason’s official university investigation ruled that Greif’s story was ultimately fair and that the coaches did make mistakes—as is obvious from the fact that three players ended up in the hospital. The facts here seem clear: Greif is good at his job, Taggart is bad at his, Taggart should stop trying to make this about a reporter rather than his own program fucking up badly, and Ducks fans who want accurate information about the team should pay attention to Greif, whether or not the coach deigns to talk to him.

Staff writer, Deadspin

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