(FIU’s head of reporter banning, Pete Garcia)
In recent years, Florida International University has made CSTB headlines for incidents including, but not limited to Isiah Thomas’ unsuccessful head coaching tenure, and ex-CNN anchorman Rick Sanchez’ awkward debut as a color analyst for the school’s football team. Said squad, coming off a 1-11 2013 season under Ron Turner, will not be covered this season by the Miami Herald’s David J. Neil. as the school as refused to issue the reporter media credentials. In response, the Herald announced they were skipping FIU’s home opener, a 14-12 defeat to Bethune-Cookman yesterday afternoon. From the Herald’s Linda Robertson :
No explanation was given by FIU, but Neal’s access to FIU coaches and athletes had been dwindling for months, to the point where he was no longer permitted to attend football practice or conduct interviews. Last week, when Neal attempted to write a story on the FIU women’s soccer team, he was told no one was allowed to talk to him.
“It’s unprecedented for any local team to refuse to credential our beat reporter without reason,” Miami Herald Executive Editor Aminda Marqués Gonzalez said of the four pro and two college teams the Herald covers on a regular basis. “The team does not get to choose who covers the program.”
Sandra Gonzalez-Levy, FIU’s senior vice president for external relations, said it was unfortunate that the Herald would not staff FIU’s game against Bethune-Cookman University at FIU Stadium on campus.
“We’re very disappointed the Herald has decided on this course,” she said. “Credentials were given to other reporters. We regret that this is the Herald’s choice.”
The ban on Neal was imposed without an explanation from Pete Garcia, FIU’s athletic director and executive director of sports and entertainment. Garcia received an email Monday from Herald Managing Editor Rick Hirsch inquiring about “evidence of unprofessional treatment” of Neal. Previously, Herald Executive Sports Editor Jorge Rojas also sought an explanation for FIU’s actions, with no response from Garcia. On Wednesday, FIU denied the Herald’s request for Neal’s credential.