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Virginia bucks the rules

The tragic death of Virginia women's lacrosse player and Cockeysville native Yeardley Love and the subsequent arrest and murder charges against men's lacrosse player George Huguely continue to hound the men's team and the NCAA Tournament.

Awaiting media covering Sunday's quarterfinals at Stony Brook was a stack of papers outlining post-game interview policies. The final sentence contained the following: "Virginia's locker room is CLOSED at all times."

That's very unusual as many of the locker rooms after NCAA Tournament contests have generally been open to the media. Interpret Virginia's decision to keep media away as you please, but I'll be curious to see if this trend continues if the Cavaliers are fortunate enough to advance to the Final Four at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore on Memorial Day weekend.

Posted by Edward Lee at 12:00 PM | | Comments (9)
        

Comments

What rule did they buck? It's their choice whether or not they want the locker room open. Most places have an interview room set up where players can speak with the media following the game. Not a big deal if it is not a policy IMO.

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Ed: Joe, generally speaking, the NCAA keeps the locker rooms after tournament games to facilitate greater access and more publicity of the teams, players, coaches, etc. You may be correct in noting that it's up to the team whether to participate. Selfishly speaking, an open locker room would benefit me because I'd like to be able to talk to players about topics other than the tragedy. I will say that Virginia did allow several select players to talk after the post-game conference today.

Didn't the media attention play a role in the women's lacrosse team's recent loss at the NCAA's? Why should the men's team be subjected to locker room probing? Guilt by association?

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Ed: I'm not sure what role the media had in the women's game against North Carolina. In my conversations with players at all levels over the last 10 years, many of them insist that they have blinders when it comes to games. I guess we'd have to poll the players on the women's team to find out if the media coverage had a negative effect.

Sounds like UVA felt the media's whole focus would have been on the tragedy and not the game today or next week's Final Four.

"That's very unusual as many of the locker rooms after NCAA Tournament contests have generally been open to the media." Mens' and Womens'? Why not the same comment about the UVA Womens' team?

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Ed: I didn't mention the women's side because I have never covered a women's lacrosse tournament game. When I covered the Maryland women's basketball team during that squad's champion run, the locker rooms were usually open after tournament game or I could request a player and meet her outside the locker room.

It seems UVA doesn't want any more information coming out to show that plenty of people at the school knew GH was a ticking time bomb. The players knew it. The coach knew it. The president already said no one had any idea...so the school doesn't want that to be proven untrue now.

After the media over hyped and blew the murder of Yeardley Love totally out of proportion to only 2 people involved, I would shut the media out of the locker room too.

The locker room is the teams' sanctuary before and after the game, no outsiders allowed. Period. Plain and simple. Get it NCAA? Open your locker room instead, not the teams.

Given the pending investigation and court case surrounding team member, George Huguely, I completely understand why they are not giving out information. Media reporters are hounds and will take advantage of any opportunity to get information and then slant it to say what they want. Furthermore, they may have opted not to be pressured at this time.

Ed, while Virginia's decision to keep the media out of the locker room may be "unusual", the fact that you thought it noteworthy suggests you were surprised. Why? As a sports journalist, you should understand better than most people a coach's decision to close the locker room to the press under these circumstances. Your "interpret it as you please" comment is provocative and unnecessary. If you want to write something insightful, you might explain why a coach would do this (i.e., to keep his team focused on the task at hand and not to dwell on past evens and circumstances currently beyond their control). What I find "surprising" is that I need to explain this to you.

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Ed: As I wrote before, it was noteworthy because in the past, NCAA policy had been to open locker rooms for all teams after NCAA Tournament games. Selfishly speaking, it was a hindrance as I had hoped to collect enough information and quotes to write a feature on either Brian Carroll or Steele Stanwick to advance the Final Four, and I couldn't do that with a closed locker room. In the end, the focus of the preview shifted and made my initial plan moot. And I'll still be curious as to what the school and NCAA decide to do about championship weekend because if Virginia advances to the final, I still would like to write something about Carroll or Stanwick, two local products who could be playing for a national title.

Ed, a journalist should not demand any interviews. Give your request to UVA officials and they may accomodate you - outside their lockeroom. Have some courtesy and respect and allow UVA to catch their breath first then do your interviews.

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Ed: Mark, I defy you to go back to anything I wrote and find where I "demanded" interviews. I make requests, and I respect those who decline to participate.

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About Faceoff
Faceoff is The Baltimore Sun's blog devoted to college and high school lacrosse. Faceoff contributors include Sun reporters Edward Lee, Mike Preston and Katherine Dunn.
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