Pac-12 mulls injury reporting The Eugene (Ore.) Register-Guard
Washington A.D. would advocate conference-wide injury reporting The Seattle Times
Pac-12 football coaches buzz about injury reports The (Wash.) Spokesman-Review
By Miguel A. Melendez
The subject of injury reports has become a hot topic since USC’s controversial move last week to ban a Daily News reporter after he wrote about an injury that USC deemed to be a violation of its media policy barring reporters from reporting on injuries.
The ban was lifted, but that didn’t stop Washington coach Steve Sarkisian from instituting a similar policy banning writers from reporting on injuries suffered at practice and information that gives away strategy.
Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott spoke with reporters at halftime of the USC-Stanford game and said he is mulling over the idea on whether they’ll implement a conference-wide mandate for schools to release injury reports.
UCLA coach Jim Mora was asked about Scott’s comments.
“I think whatever they ask us to do we’ll do,” Mora said. “I think teams will conform to that. I think if it’s across the board and everyone is held to the same standard with it, I don’t have a problem with it at all.”
UCLA, USC, Washington and Oregon are among Pac-12 schools that have placed a media policy barring reporters from dispatching reports on injuries and strategy from practice.
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The NFL has a policy mandating teams to release injury reports during the week with players listed as as out, questionable, doubtful and probable. According to the Seattle Times, Washington athletic director Scott Woodward said he would be in favor if it’s across the board. In fact, the Seattle Times reported Woodward called Scott and “applauded him about putting forth a great idea.”
Mora, who spent 25 years coaching in the NFL, was asked if the injury report in the NFL was accurate.
“At times,” Mora said, drawing laughs. “With certain teams. I think there are some coaches that understand how to manipulate it a little bit and they try to.
“It’s interesting, (how the injury report has) become this hot topic. Like I said last week, we can all understand why people want to know about injuries. First of all, there’s a huge level of interest in our teams and the fans want to know. In the NFL, I know they worry about the bettors. Some bettors have more information than others so they try to streamline some information, and I think that’s fine. But from a coach’s perspective any time that you lose a competitive advantage it’s hard.
“But if the commissioner deems that that’s the way we should go then I’m 100 percent behind it, and we’ll conform 100 percent.”
Mora, in his first season coaching the college ranks, was not aware releasing such information was optional. For the first two weeks of fall camp in San Bernardino, Mora made it a point to speak with team trainers at the end of practice to gather a summary on injuries and then open his remarks updating reporters on injuries.
That all changed when UCLA returned to Westwood.
“I didn’t know until a few weeks ago,” said Mora when asked when he knew he didn’t have to divulge such information. “That’s why I was feeding you guys all that injury info early on.”
The worry among coaches is if one team gives away information and the opponent doesn’t, it creates a competitive disadvantage for teams releasing injury information, which in turns allows opposing teams to prepare better game plans.
Scott is expected to add the topic on the agenda for the next meeting among Pac-12 athletic directors. Should a new policy come to fruition, Mora said he’ll oblige and then some.
“We won’t try to manipulate it if there’s a rule put in effect,” Mora said. “That’s not our style.”
Of course, not everyone is happy about Scott succumbing to pressure from the media.
Washington State coach Mike Leach told reporters in Spokane he will not adhere to the rule should one come into effect. Leach told reporters in Pullman, Wash., he doesn’t care if the Pac-12 mandates an injury report.
“I would still refuse,” Leach said. “I would still be very elusive on it. It would also violate the HIPAA law which would be interesting to me if the Pac-12 could get that law overturned. It’s nobody’s business, and plus, obviously if some kid doesn’t want you to know why, should you? No, I still wouldn’t tell.”