Sports Blogger Ejected Raising 1st Amendment Issues

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) -- A sports reporter was ejected from an NCAA baseball tournament game for submitting live Internet reports during play, raising Constitutional issues.

Brian Bennett, a writer for The (Louisville, Ky.) Courier-Journal was approached Sunday by an NCAA representative in the bottom of the fifth inning and told that blogging from an NCAA championship event is against NCAA policies, the newspaper said.

Bennett had done live blogging during Louisville's super-regional baseball games against Oklahoma State in the previous two games of the three-game series. The representative revoked Bennett's credential Sunday and asked him to leave the game.

The newspaper's Executive Editor, Bennie Ivory, said he was considering an official response. "It's clearly a First Amendment issue," Ivory said. "This is part of the evolution of how we present the news to our readers. It's what we did during the Orange Bowl. It's what we did during the NCAA basketball tournament. It's what we do."

The newspaper said the university circulated a memo on the issue from Jeramy Michiaels, the NCAA's manager of broadcasting, before the first super-regional game on Friday. It said blogs are considered a "live representation of the game" and blogs containing action photos or game reports are prohibited until the game is over.

Bennett consulted with his editors and continued to blog the game, submitting the first report at 4:12 p.m. EDT Sunday, the newspaper said.

"It's a real question that we're being deprived of our right to report within the First Amendment from a public facility," said Jon L. Fleischaker, the newspaper's attorney. "Once a player hits a home run, that's a fact. It's on TV. Everybody sees it. (The
NCAA) can't copyright that fact."

Louisville won the game 20-2 to advance to the College World Series in Omaha, Neb. Louisville's athletics director, Tom Jurich, said the school must abide by NCAA rules. Gene McArtor, a representative of the NCAA baseball committee, declined to comment to the newspaper at the game. A telephone message left Monday for the NCAA in Indianapolis was not immediately returned.

Information from: The Courier-Journal

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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