Media Sportswatch: October 2017

Joel Bulkley

Sports news in the past month took a turn to the unusual.

Men’s college basketball referee John Higgins is suing Kentucky Sports Radio, accusing the show’s hosts of harassment–sharing his personal information and encouraging angry Kentucky fans to come after him for his officiating in the Wildcat Elite Eight loss to North Carolina in March.

Is it a First Amendment case or personal injury?

How far have local papers fallen?

Here are annual ownership statements and circulation figures published for Herald-Sun and N&O 10/1:

Herald-Sun 8/27, pressrun 12,242, total paid 9,322; N&O 8/27 pressrun 116,686, total paid copies including electronic subs 98,187.

These are figures for a Sunday paper, normally the highest of the week, so daily numbers are considerably lower. The average number copies over previous 12 months for N&O was press run 89,447, total paid 77,508. Figures for Herald-Sun were 13,327 and 11,977.

The papers are looking more and more the same, especially in sports, and last week they had identical front page headlines for Las Vegas shootings.

The papers apparently will change sports beat reporters Dec. 1. Andrew Carter (UNC) will move to investigation team (sports), Joe Giglio (NC State) will shift to UNC, Steve Wise­man (Duke) moves to N.C. State, Jonathan Alexander (re­cruiting) to Duke, Jonas Pope (NCCU) will take over recruiting. The changes were reported by Mark Armstrong of WTVD on Twitter.

AT&T’s U-verse has not carried WRAL TV (NBC) or Fox 50 since mid September due to a contract dispute with Capitol Broadcasting over retransmission fees. Viewers can get both with an antenna or online.

Two media rights giants are planning to merge. Learfield (130 schools including UNC, N.C. State) wants to merge with IMG College (200 schools including Duke, Wake Forest). They both handle multimedia rights and sports marketing.

The passing of N.C. high school sports giant Charlie Adams brought some fine remembrances.

The FBI college hoops scandal brought a mixed bag of stories, some insightful from national papers, others nasty and incomplete from some blogs and sports websites like Yahoo.

On a more positive note, some basketball news: Duke re­moved Crow’s Nest seating for radio/TV broadcasters in the upper reaches of Cameron for safety reasons. UNC plans for upgrades to Smith Center are on hold. Five UNC NCAA basketball MVPs (Worthy, Williams, May, Ellington, Berry) gathered for the first time ever last month at the UNC ring ceremony in Kenan.

According to, UNC was first and Duke second as best college basketball program for last ten years. Kansas was third, Kentucky fourth, Louisville fifth.

ACC has six teams in Blue Ribbon Basketball Yearbook pre-season top 25—Duke 3, Louisville 6, UNC 10, Miami 16, Notre Dame 19, Virginia Tech 25. Berry was second team All America.

“Country” Dan Collins retired after 45 years of sports writing in Chapel Hill and Winston-Salem. SI says soccer player Christiano Ronaldo and gymnast Simon Biles are the world’s most in-shape athletes.

What is your college football team worth? An analysis by Ryan Brewer, a finance professor at Indiana University, said Ohio State was first and could get $1,510,182,000 (that’s $1.5B) on the open market. UNC was number 50 at $147,179,000. Duke was 68, $64,195,000, N.C. State 42, $192,813,000.

Credit to UNLV athletes for making red ribbons (#Vegas strong) to honor the victims of Las Vegas shootings and the local heroes of the day.

Credit to Dallas sportscaster Dale Hanson, a progressive voice, for his commentaries on social issues interlocked with pro football on WFAA

Final edition of Golf Carolinas weekly newsletter from the Charlotte Observer was published last month.

The U.S. MNT moved closer to making 2018 World Cup after drilling Panama 4-0. All they need is a tie or win Oct. 10 against Trinidad & Tobago for eighth straight trip to World Cup.