A Southern California News Group reporter has been suspended from covering the USC football team for two weeks for allegedly violating the school’s media guidelines, the news organization announced Tuesday.
Orange County Register and SCNG reporter Luca Evans’ team access was suspended after coach Lincoln Riley apparently disputed a story Evans published last week about freshman running back Quinten Joyner.
In leading that story, Evans detailed an innocuous conversation Joyner and fellow freshman Braylan Shelby had with each other before speaking to reporters. The conversation, which took place in front of reporters, was about their nervousness about speaking to reporters – something they hadn’t done much of so far in their careers. Evans also spoke to Joyner’s father on the phone later, and Joyner’s father thought the conversation was funny and accurate.
Yet USC maintains that Evans violated its policy prohibiting reporting on anything outside of media availability at the practice facility, even though the conversation Evans described was literally right next to the practice field’s “media backdrop of USC.” He also didn’t reveal any inside or private information, but simply added color to the story and showed the players’ personalities.
USC Director of Football Communications Katie Ryan apparently also had other concerns about Evans when she asked a question in a press conference after the conference, which was not unusual, and for speaking to players and coaches on campus in areas that were not been designated as media availability.
“This is a huge overreaction to what the USC program perceives as a policy violation,” said Orange County Register senior editor Todd Harmonson. “We clearly disagree and fully support Luca.”
Harmonson, sports editor Tom Moore and SCNG publisher Ron Hasse wrote a letter to the university formally requesting the suspension be lifted Monday. The university stood by the football team.
“As an institution, USC is proud to treat the media as a respected partner and key component,” the university responded. “We understand that journalists’ responsibility is to fairly and objectively cover stories, news events and their respective beats. As you know, our media policies exist to protect our student-athletes and foster a culture of trust that is critical to building successful programs.
“After careful consideration and consistent with the sentiment above, USC supports the football program’s decision to suspend Luca for two weeks. We recognize that this may be disappointing, but we hope you can understand the need to enforce our media policies as we strive to create a positive and comfortable environment for our players and coaches.”
Riley was asked directly about the suspension Tuesday, but declined to go into specifics.
“I don’t think we have too many rules, too many policies, but those we have, we take them seriously because that’s not my first job, even if it’s part of my job, it’s not the media job, it’s not for the fans, it’s not for no one else. It’s to protect our players, and that’s first and foremost, that’s always going to be No. 1,” Riley said, via Paolo Uggetti of ESPN.
“And so there was enough. I know the article in question was not accurate. There were several broken policies and it seemed like it was far enough away that we needed to take action, but we look forward to welcoming the journalist in question a whenever the time comes.” on.”
This isn’t the first time an incident like this has happened at USC or under coach Lincoln Riley, who is in his second season with the Trojans after five years at Oklahoma. USC briefly suspended an LA Daily News reporter in 2012, when the team was led by coach Lane Kiffin, after the reporter reported an injury. Riley once canceled media availability at Oklahoma in 2021, when student journalists reported developments in the quarterback situation while watching practice from the journalism building on the school’s campus, which was across the street from to the practice field.
No. USC on Saturday. 5 will face Arizona State.