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Monday, March 23, 2009

Coaching Search Update

The rumors surrounding Anthony Grant's impending arrival in the SEC swirled again Monday, but Georgia officials were quick to offer a flat denial of any contact between the school and the Virginia Commonwealth head coach.

A day after several media outlets reported an offer had been extended to Grant by Georgia, sports information director Claude Felton explicitly denied any involvement on the part of school president Dr. Michael Adams or athletics director Damon Evans in an email to several media members.

"I can say with complete authority that neither Damon Evans nor Dr. Adams has ever had a conversation with Anthony Grant as of today, Monday, March 23," Felton wrote in the email.

Felton said that both Adams and Evans attended Georgia's women's basketball game in Duluth on Saturday afternoon and then took a private plane to Nashville, Tenn. for the gymnastics team's meet. They did not return until after 10 p.m., Felton said.

The Telegraph reported Sunday that, while sources said there was interest in Grant on the part of Georgia, Evans was adamant in his denial that the school was close to hiring any candidate, including Grant.

Meanwhile, another SEC school could make any discussions a moot point.

The Richmond Times-Dispatch confirmed that Alabama had asked for permission to discuss its coaching vacancy with Grant. Virginia Commonwealth sports information director Norwood Teague said Alabama athletics director Mal Moore contacted the school about Grant on Saturday night, but Georgia's Scout.com Web site that no such communication had occurred with Georgia.

SEE ALSO:

-- Scout's comments from VCU athletics director.

-- Gentry Estes' continuing coverage from the Bama side of things.

MY THOUGHTS:

I mentioned in yesterday's post that there were tons of rumors swirling yesterday. I honestly haven't been on this beat long enough to have people I trust with 100 percent accuracy, and I'm not sure any reporter should ever do that anyway. That said, I have no doubt that reporters beyond myself heard information that certainly sounded accurate, because I heard it, too. After talking with Damon Evans yesterday evening, however, I was convinced that no hire would happen soon, and I was not convinced enough of anything else to run with it. Some of it sounded awfully accurate, some of it not so much. That's to be expected, and that's why our paper has a rather high standard for what we are allowed to print.

The question, I think, becomes this: When are rumors news? I was watching ESPN today and the network ran a commercial touting Buster Olney's coverage of baseball's rumor mill. The rumors section on ESPN.com is one of the most popular destinations on the behemoth's Web site for good reason. Fans love it.

As journalists, it is our job to report the news in as factual a manner as possible. Sometimes, however, the simple fact that there are so many rumors is news in and of itself. False reporting is always inexcusable, but to ignore the elephant in the room becomes increasingly burdensome as the news cycle gets faster and faster. From ESPN using anonymous sourcing regularly to Internet message boards that post any rumor, no matter how baseless, the line between what should and should not be reported becomes more and more blurred. It's my goal -- as it should be everyone who does this for a living -- to stay on the right side of that line.

I say all of this for two reasons: 1.) Because while it is my goal to get you breaking information first as often as possible, I can't make that promise if it means running with information I'm not comfortable with, and 2.) while it's easy to offer a critique of information other outlets have, it is a very, very rare occasion in which that information doesn't come from a good source. It's just a matter of where you draw the line, and that, my friends, is a much bigger debate these days than I care to have here.

6 comments:

DawgCPA said...

David Hale,
I have not always had a lot of use for reporters in general. There have been several I have enjoyed, some of whom have been my friends. In all seriousness, I must say you are the absolute best sports reporter I have ever encountered. This blog has allowed you to show us your personality and your integrity. I very much respect that.

I thoroughly enjoy your posts. I KNOW what I'm getting is truth, with heart. It's very refreshing.

Now... if you can just let go of the Cubs! I mean, really! The Cubs? Nice story line and all... but the Cubs? Really! Really?

Mike In Valdosta said...

David, your the best.

Can;t keep my blogs straight, but yet another reason for hiring a search firm is plausible deniability (is that a word?).

Here's a hint, DH, the second best source for UGA athletics information is Susan Yoculan.

David Hale said...

CPA -- Many thanks for the kind words. And the Cubs fandom is a curse, and my burden to carry with me forever. My hope is that some day, long after my demise, me, Harry Caray and the billy goat can toast some Old Styles in those great bleachers in the sky to a Cubs World Series, but I'm not holding my breath.

Mike, thanks to you, too, for the kind words.

These are the issues we grapple with all the time. Just as there are stories that are thinly sourced that we have to decide whether to write, there are also other stories that are well sourced, but you have to ask if it's worth the fallout of writing it.

In a perfect world, there is only fact and non-fact, but journalism is far from a perfect world, and there are tons of gray areas. In sports, it makes for great debate, but in the rest of the "real" journalism world, there is a lot more riding on it. It's both interesting and scary. I greatly appreciate the readers like you guys who can appreciate the depth of the issues.

JM said...

Any speculation that this means Grant isn't the #1 on UGA's board...?

My guess is the denial and lack of action could be the result of Anderson and Capel still being in the tournament.

David Hale said...

Perhaps, but the interest from Bama is both real and immediate, so as I wrote in the story, it could all be a moot point.

And while I never say never, I would be real surprised if things ever progress beyond the kicking the tires stage with Capel.

The other names remain the same as we've been hearing all along, but I wouldn't bet against something coming completely out of left field.

So that eliminates... anyone?

Gen. Stoopnagle said...

960 talked about Kentucky still playing in the NIT and that many might not be interested in making decisions until Kentucky's season is over. FWIW.

I agree with Brahm that there's no need for Georgia to rush this choice. If Bama wants to hire Grant now, then let them. I don't think there is a slam dunk (a la Saban 07/Davis 08/Tubberville 09 in football) hire out there. Well, unless we can hire Pitino or Calapari (the latter I don't think fits UGA) - which seems beyond unlikely. And Tubby is off the market (supposedly).

I won't pretend to know more than I do - so, I'll trust the powers that be to get someone in here who will motivate me to get to more than the two games I attended this year.