Panel discusses Kernel, UK Athletics conflict

By Rachel Aretakis and Brandon Goodwin

The UK Society of Professional Journalists held a panel Monday with a former Sports Illustrated writer and Kernel editors to discuss the conflict between UK Athletics and the Kernel.

DeWayne Peevy, UK’s associate athletic director for Media Relations, was originally going to attend but called the group’s officials Friday and said he couldn’t.

“I think he’s a busy man, and I think this is something he wants to put behind him,” said Brooke McCloud, the society’s president.

Peevy was invited to bring the university’s side of the conflict, which centered around Peevy revoking Kernel basketball writer and managing editor Aaron Smith’s access to a media event with men’s basketball players.

“As journalists, we want it to be fair,” McCloud said. “We want to get both sides.”

About 25 students and faculty attended the forum.

Billy Reed, a former Sports Illustrated writer and former Courier-Journal sports reporter, said Peevy’s absence was a sign of disrespect toward the panel and the Kernel.

“The Kernel is just a bug on the windshield of Big Blue Nation’s day,” Reed said, referring to UK Athletics.

During the panel, Reed spoke about the “punishment-reward” system implemented by UK Athletics.

Peevy “is far exceeding his authority for setting policy on how reporters collect information for a story,” Reed said.

Kernel managing editor and basketball writer Aaron Smith was to receive access, along with other select members of the media, to one-on-one interviews with members of the basketball team on Aug. 30, but lost that “reward” when he attempted to interview Brian Long and Sam Malone, Peevy told the Kernel Aug. 29.

The Kernel, an independent student newspaper, reported Aug. 29 that two walk-ons had been added to the basketball team — information that Smith reported after looking up the two players’ cellphone numbers in the directory on UK’s website and calling them.

The names of the players were first released on Twitter the evening of Aug. 28 by UK freshman basketball player Anthony Davis (@AntDavis23) and also reported on Kentucky Sports Radio just after 9 a.m. Aug. 29. Long and Malone confirmed to Smith that they are on the team but declined to be interviewed further.

UK Athletics has not officially announced the two players as walk-ons, although UK head coach John Calipari has welcomed the players via his personal Twitter account.

During the panel, Kernel managing editor Becca Clemons pointed out that the two maintained a working relationship before the incident and continue to do so.