UK bans Herald-Leader from interviewing UK player

The University of Kentucky banned a hometown newspaper from interviewing a highly touted basketball player because the paper hasn't publicly apologized for the way it edited a question in a published story that mentioned the violent death of the athlete's father.
UK said in a sternly worded statement Thursday that the
Lexington Herald-Leader "took the liberty" of rewriting a
question posed to freshman Michael Kidd-Gilchrist in a way that
sensationalized the interview.
The rephrasing asked how Kidd-Gilchrist was affected by his
father's death from multiple gunshot wounds when the player was 2
years old. The original question didn't mention the shooting. The
school said the change was unfair to the player and his family.
The Herald-Leader ran a clarification that said the question was
edited for space and to add context, but UK wasn't satisfied.
"Because it is our responsibility and duty to protect our
student athletes and we feel an apology from the Lexington
Herald-Leader was necessary, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist will no longer
be available for interviews with the Herald-Leader," UK's
statement said.
Asked to comment, Herald-Leader Editor and Vice President Peter
Baniak said in a statement, "The Herald-Leader clarified the
wording of the question in the Q and A, both in the newspaper and
on the Web, and that clarification stands."
The action was the second time in recent weeks that UK has
punished a publication by denying access to athletes.
In August, UK banned student reporter Aaron Smith from
interviews with basketball players.
Smith was banned from an event in which select media were
allowed to interview players. The university said Smith was not
allowed to attend because he had broken a university policy by
contacting two walk-on basketball players without going through
media relations.
Smith called them to confirm they were walk-ons. When they said
yes, he asked if they would be willing to talk to him. Both
UK's punishment of Smith drew harsh criticism from national and
regional journalism groups.
The university's spat with the Herald-Leader stems from a
question-and-answer session with Kidd-Gilchrist that's part of a
series with each of UK's men's basketball players. The questions
dealt more with his family life than with basketball.
Kidd-Gilchrist, a 6-foot-7, 232-pound forward from Somerdale,
N.J., was a McDonald's All-American in high school and is expected
to be a key contributor to the Wildcats this coming season.
In the story that ran in the Herald-Leader's sports section
Wednesday, the first question asked: "Your father died of multiple
gunshot wounds when you were 2 years old. How did that affect
you?" That version first appeared online late Tuesday afternoon.
The newspaper added the clarification to the top of the online
version of the story Wednesday night and it appeared in print on
page 1 of the sports section Thursday morning. The original version
ran on page 3 of the sports section.
After explaining that the question was edited for space and to
add context, the clarification then said: "In reference to the
death of Kidd-Gilchrist's father when the player was age 2, (beat
writer) Jerry Tipton said: "My father died when I was 2 years old.
So that grabbed my attention. How did that affect you?"
In his answer, Kidd-Gilchrist said: "It wasn't just me. It was
me and my mom. She didn't know what to do. We had my grandma, too.
My uncle Darrin (Kidd) was there, too. I want to play this game for
him. That's how it was."
The article went on to ask the player about his uncle's
influence in his life and about his uncle's death from a heart
attack the day he signed with Kentucky. Kidd-Gilchrist tried to
revive him.
Kidd-Gilchrist has already drawn wide attention for his personal
story and basketball skills. He will be featured in a documentary
on HBO that follows his high school basketball team.
The documentary, called "Prayer for a Perfect Season," will
also tell of Kidd-Gilchrist's personal struggle, losing his father
at age 2 and his uncle and caretaker during his senior year of high
The film will debut on HBO on Oct. 25.