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Archive for Thursday, August 31, 2000

MU coach at odds with media

August 31, 2000

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Missouri coach Larry Smith insists no one is circling the wagons around his program days before the Tigers open their season against Western Illinois.

This week, Smith whose relationship soured with the media as MU collapsed at the end of last season criticized reporters at practice and changed the team's policy on releasing information about injuries.

Under the new policy, the team will no longer discuss player injuries. Smith said reporters can assume players are hurt and in the training room if they're not on the field.

"You all are going to be at the game on Saturday," he said. "You're going to see who plays and who doesn't play."

Smith, who in the past freely answered questions about injuries, changed his policy Monday, the same day he spent several minutes criticizing the media following the Tigers' afternoon practice.

He was upset that reporters from the Columbia Missourian had called coaches and players at home over the weekend, seeking comment about two suspended players.

"To me, that is just privacy," Smith said. "We have a system here. We have a very good sports information department. If you want interviews, we're going to oblige you with those interviews. We're going to accommodate the best we can, but it has to be through the department here."

Smith's comments follow changes in the amount of access Missouri grants to the media this season. Practice, open during Smith's first six seasons at Missouri, is now closed three days a week.

Reporters for the Missourian, according to Tigers spokesman Jeremy McNeive, had called players and coaches at home and gone to some players homes over the weekend.

The Missourian has professional editors, but its reporters are students at the university's journalism school.

McNeive said Smith was not upset about what the Missourian reported that two members of the team failed a drug test but with how they went about getting their information. Smith has limited his comments about the suspension to a statement saying they violated team rules.

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