Biggest College Media Villain, Fall 2009

This is the third installment of a multi-post glimpse back at the highlights and lowlights of fall 2009 in collegemediatopia.

Biggest College Media VillainBobby Hauck, University of Montana

Last semester, University of Montana football coach Bobby Hauck (who recently accepted a job at UNLV) threw a prolonged temper tantrum aimed directly at the student press. He temporarily refused to speak to The Montana Kaimin, the school’s student newspaper, and instructed his team and staff to boycott the publication as well. Why? Because, wait for it, Kaimin staffers had the gall to not only publish an accurate story about two football players’ alleged misdeeds but also then ask Hauck some tame football questions at press conferences.  (His “behavioral stupidity” received a hilarious editorial smackdown from SI’s Jeff Pearlman.)

Football

Runner-up honors go to Robert Caret, the president of Towson University. Near the middle of last semester, Caret publicly criticized the inclusion of a sex column in The Towerlight student newspaper and threatened to pull needed university funding from the paper if it continued running. It was callous, censorious posturing that did nothing but inflame tensions and put Towson in the spotlight as a school boasting leaders who believe more in the “censor’s arbitrary fist” than editorial freedom.

Finally, this villainous list must include Jennifer Burton, the sister of a University of Memphis student suspected of burning a rainbow flag last November outside the Memphis Gay and Lesbian Community Center. Burton said she “absolutely” trashed hundreds- possibly thousands- of copies of The Daily Helmsman that featured a story on her brother’s alleged wrongdoing to somewhat lessen his embarrassment. While I can understand sisterly instincts, her steal-and-toss MO was still hella-wrong and of course ultimately worked to bring yet more attention to her brother’s terrible behavior.

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