By Jay Christensen, TheWizOfOdds.com
Reporters at Kirk Ferentz's news conference Tuesday were handed a surprise by Iowa officials: A notice detailing conditions and limitations of the NCAA Blogging Policy.
That policy, which also gives the host institution final authority on whether a credential holder or credential entity is following policy, allows for only five blog entries per half, one at halftime and two in an overtime period of football and basketball games.
What sparked this missive? No one knows for sure, but the educated guess is that it was aimed at the Cedar Rapids Gazette, which hosted separate live blogging sessions by Mike Hlas and Scott Dochterman during last Saturday's Maine-Iowa game.
This isn't the first time the NCAA has cracked down on blogging. In June 2007, Brian Bennett of the Louisville Courier-Journal was thrown out of the press box for posting live updates on a Louisville-Oklahoma State baseball game. The NCAA said in a memo to reporters that "no blog entries are permitted between the first pitch and the final out of each game." Scott Bearby, an associate general counsel for the NCAA, told the New York Times that the governing body had a right to protect the contracts it establishes with television networks and its own Internet providers.
But when the Courier-Journal threatened legal action, saying the NCAA's action was a violation of the First Amendment, the governing body backed down, allowing reporters to "blog about the atmosphere, crowd and other details during a game but may not mention anything about game action."
Even with the clarification, the NCAA appears to be on shaky legal ground. Not only does the governing body appear to be in violation of the First Amendment, there are restraint of trade issues considering that many member institutions are tax-supported (public) institutions.