The University of Oregon’s president has called for an investigation of “free-speech policy violations” by the school’s athletic department—two weeks after department officials threatened to pull credentials from the student newspaper for an article on reported acts of violence by a football player.
The school paper, The Daily Emerald, published an article last month detailing reports on three acts of violence by senior tight end Pharaoh Brown. In 2014, he allegedly punched teammate Matt Wogan in the locker room so hard that the kicker was concussed; in 2015, he allegedly attempted to strangle his girlfriend during a fight at his apartment; this summer, he allegedly fought teammate Paris Bostick during a conditioning session. According to the paper’s reporting, there was no record of team disciplinary action against Brown for any of these incidents. (The Eugene Police Department investigated the fight between Brown and his girlfriend at the time, but no charges were pressed or arrests made. An incident report, with the name of his girlfriend redacted, is here.)
After the Emerald’s piece was published, the athletic department reportedly threatened to block future coverage by pulling credentials from the paper—citing the fact that the student reporters at one point tried directly following up with an athlete they interviewed through the athletic department, rather than seeking department consent for follow-up questions.
Now, university president Michael Schill has asked the school’s general counsel to investigate the athletic department for a possible violation of free-speech policy.
“We thought this was inappropriate given the stance of the university on freedom of speech and freedom of the press,” University Senate Vice President Chris Sinclair told the Emerald. “So we suggested the general counsel take a look and see if any policies have been violated.”
Brown was the Ducks’ only first-team, all-Pac-12 selection this season.