One of the first rules of journalism, at least when I was in the profession, was to never assume anything. The constant refrain was that assuming anything, rather than verifying the facts, will invariably make an ass out of u and me.

That advice isn’t being heeded by many so-called professionals in the traditional news media these days. Their approach is to cherry pick the information, making use of facts that support a case while overlooking or ignoring anything that doesn’t support their case.

Unfortunately, there are too many instances in the mainstream media these days where it is sorely obvious that reporting is intended to support the ideological or motivational bent of the news outlet. All too often, individual reporters make little or no effort to be objective, actually betraying their training and profession to push a corporate or personal agenda.

Andrew Wolfson keeps UofL on the front page (Courier-Journal photo).
Andrew Wolfson keeps UofL on the front page of the Courier-Journal (Courier-Journal photo).

Sadly that seems to be the case with at least one long-time reporter at the Courier-Journal, namely Andrew Wolfson, who has worked at the C-J for almost 35 years. He seems to be assuming that UofL will be stripped of its 2013 national basketball championship banner.

Wolfson showed up at the press conference on the NCAA notice of allegations last week, seemingly with one thing on his mind — whether UofL would have to vacate all of its wins during the 2012-13 season. The manner in which Wolfson asked the question gave one the impression he would be disappointed if there were any other outcome.

He finally got around to turning in his story Tuesday indicating, sure enough,  that two “experts” who had previously served on the NCAA Committee on Infractions believed that UofL would have to give up the title.  Took him a few days, but he was able to find people who agreed with him. Unable apparently to find anyone who disagreed. If so, they weren’t included in the story.

This despite the fact that the NCAA report did not include any of the following: No ‘lack of institutional control’ at Louisville, which would have been the most severe accusation. No “failure to monitor” against the institution. No allegation that Pitino failed to ‘promote an atmosphere of compliance.’ And no indication that the coach had knowledge of what took place in the dormitory.

Wolfson’s experts, which do include the dean of a law school and an author of a handbook on NCAA investigations, apparently overlooked the omissions. The actually allegations, while serious, would not seem to support further action against the institution or the program than have already been self-imposed — the ban on post-season play in 2016, the loss of scholarships and a reduction in recruiting time.

Wolfson appears to be the lone wolf (pun intended) who seems to have been given quite a bit of editorial license in advocating for further major penalties for the program. Also, he seems to be a little bit out of his league in covering a sports story, especially with such qualified C-J sportswriters as Tim Sullivan, Jeff Greer and Steve Jones already on the case. If there is any resentment of his intruding into their area of expertise, it has yet to surface.

The most likely scenario is that the NCAA would seek to penalize Pitino for failing to adequately supervise or question the activities of Andre McGee. One would expect that to finally dawn on Wolfson and, if he continues to have a role in this story, it will be to dog Pitino with front page stories until the final penalties are announced next spring.

Over the past couple of years, it was painfully obvious that the C-J was out to get former UofL President Jim Ramsey, sicking Wolfson on him at every opportunity, blaming him for every misdeed at the University, hounding him until he was finally forced to submit his resignation. All this to a man who had taken the University to unprecedented new heights in academics, athletics, giving, and campus beautification and expansion.

Jim Ramsey hasn’t been seen much in Louisville since he resigned from the UofL Foundation, reportedly spending much of his time in Florida, far from his home town and his beloved university. 

Don’t be surprised if similar tactics are employed by the C-J against Pitino. The higher-ups at the C-J have obviously determined that the guilt goes beyond the impish activities of Andre McGee and they’re eager to assume the worst about the UofL basketball program.

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By Charlie Springer

Charlie Springer is a former Louisville editor and sportswriter, a public affairs consultant, a UofL grad and longtime fan.

3 thoughts on “One CJ reporter assumes the worst about UofL basketball”
  1. Spot on, Charlie! Sadly, the unprofessionalism and bias go much deeper at the CJT. I am surprised and disappointed the Gannett would allow such yellow journalism to permeate one of their properties to such an extent. Personal vendettas have no place on the front pages of a metropolitan newspaper. It’s bad enough to constantly see political bias exhibited, but deplorable to see our beloved University dragged through the muddy backstreet ‘journalism’ by the CJT. It’s time for Gannett to step in and clean house!

  2. Do the two “experts” Wolfson interviewed have actual first-hand knowledge of the results of the investigation? If so, their comments may be valid. However, if the two were just speculating, based on past outcomes, how much more valid are their conclusions than those that might be put forth by the man on the street? My money would be on the conclusion of investigator Chuck Smrt that stripping the team of its championship banner would be inappropriate. This man has actually been in on the investigation and KNOWS the facts. Or did Wolfson just use their speculations to keep the subject out there for more discussion, thus drumming up more readership from the CJ’s pitiably declining numbers?

  3. Thank goodness someone finally wrote this article. Wolfson is an attack dog (pun intended) that has but one objective — take down the University. I simply do not understand why the CJ is interested in doing this to one of the most important economic and cultural institutions in the city.

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