No further word on Hoeppner from IU today

Chris and I are flying back from Sacramento today so it’s not easy to bring you the follow-up reporting we’d like to provide right away on the announcement that Terry Hoeppner will miss spring football practice because of issues with his health.

Here’s where we are right now – we requested today to talk with coach Hoeppner and Rick Greenspan so we could ask questions about the impact of this situation on the university’s football program. The response we got from IU athletic media relations is that Hoeppner and Greenspan have already made their only comments on the situation at this point through their press release last night.

Tomorrow afternoon, we will attend Indiana’s first spring football practice and have the chance to talk with coach Bill Lynch and Hoosier players before practice. So we hope to get some reaction from them on coach Hoeppner’s absence and his health.

Another development in this situation is that IU is cutting back media access to spring football this year. We are usually allowed to attend almost all 15 of Indiana’s spring football practices, with the possible exception of a scrimmage or two.

This year, according to the schedule we received from IU media relations today, we will be allowed to attend two practices and three scrimmages (including the spring game), so most of spring practice will be closed to the media. This means that the H-T and other media outlets will be providing substantially less coverage of spring football this year. It also means it will be more difficult to get updates on what those close to Hoeppner are hearing from him.

We are finally about to leave the Sacramento airport to head home. We will provide updates tomorrow on the first spring practice and what we hear before practice.

8 comments

  1. Are you allowed to attend any two practices, or two that IU picks? Any legitimate reason they’d do that?

  2. Bob,

    The practices we are allowed to attend have been dictated to us by the IU media relations staff.

    To answer your second question: not that I can think of.

    Chris

  3. Chris

    In 40 years of newspapering I have read many thoughtless and tasteless articles, but your article on Hoeppner this morning deserved to be spiked. Where is your brain and where is your humanity?

    It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to read between the lines of IU’s comments. This is not the greatest story ever uncovered and if you ask 10 people on the street at least 7 would understand what is happening to the coach.

    I suggest you work as hard to uncover the financial deallings of IU Athletics. Now that is a story.

    Grow up as a journalist and stop the “wise-ass-journalism”.

    Mike Hefron

  4. Mike,

    I can assure you we are working on uncovering the financial dealings of IU Athletics.

    Thanks for reading and for offering your commentary. Obviously, I knew some people would disagree.

    That’s journalism, as you know.

    Take care,

    Chris

  5. Chris,

    I thought your article was fine. Thoughtless
    and tasteless? Come on. Any newspaper
    sports dept., or sports radio program in any
    other market would be all over this story and
    the fact that IU is reducing media coverage
    for spring games makes it even more suspect.
    They want support for the program, yet they
    shut out media access. IU can’t have it both
    ways.

  6. Chris,

    Here is my thoughts on why they would not want you covering much at spring practice, or any practice this year. Last years coverage of IU Football was the most intensive I have ever seen. I could read the articles, know who was struggling in practice all week, and then go to the games and watch the other team and coaching staff attacking and exposing that player in their game plan. While game tape shows you some things, if their coaches responsible for scouting can pick up the local news paper, read who is having trouble with running routes, who is limping around practice, and so forth, that information is invaluable.

    Take being shut out of practice as a sign of a job well done.

  7. Mike,

    As someone who was in the newspaper business for 40 years, I wouldn’t think you’d be advocating that we leave the public having to “read between the lines” of the statements a public institution issues in its press releases. Your approach would be a dream come true for the PR people at IU as they would be able to shape a story however it best suits their needs.

    In this very difficult situation with Terry Hoeppner, it is not thoughtless or tasteless in my opinion for Chris to suggest that refusing to provide some substantial information about what is happening with coach Hoeppner’s health is not in the best interest of IU’s football program and of the many of the stakeholders in that program.

    As I look at this situation, I don’t just see 7 of 10 people reading between the lines and understanding what is happening with coach Hoeppner’s health, as you do. Instead, I see 19 young recruits who were assured by IU coaches that Hoeppner was fine when they made one of the biggest decisions of their lives last month to attend IU. They don’t understand what is happening with coach Hoeppner’s health and certainly have some right to know.

    And I see all of the current IU players wondering what’s happening with coach Hoeppner. Those young guys have given so much to the football program – practicing year round in hopes of finally having a winning season. They are counting on Hoeppner coming back soon because that’s what they’ve been told. Nick Sexton told me yesterday that he probably doesn’t know any more about Hoeppner’s health than I do, but he’s expecting Hoeppner back for next season. A parent of an IU football senior told me yesterday that some of the seniors are worried about how their last season at IU will go if Hoeppner isn’t able to return.

    And I’m hearing questions from long-time season ticket holders and donors to the football program. Their first concern is the well-being of coach Hoeppner, as it should be, but they also want to know whether he will be well enough to return to the program and what IU’s plans are if he is not. People really care about Hoeppner and they want to know how he is doing. Why is this all such a huge secret?

    This has been an extremely difficult story to cover from the beginning in January 2006. We have tried very hard to be respectful of coach Hoeppner while also providing to the public what information we can about the ability of one of the state’s highest-paid public officials to continue in his duties with Indiana University. As you can tell, Mike, I think your comments to Chris are off base.

    Doug

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