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Wednesday, January 26, 2000
Houston, Texas
Volume 65, Issue 81

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Chronicle coverage a little out of hand

Sports Opinion

Rohith Nandagiri

Next week in the Houston Chronicle, there is going to be a story about how soccer coach Chris Huston mows the lawn at her house. It seems her lawn mower exerts .01 percent more than the legal limit of fumes.

Chronicle reporter Danny Robbins was seen interviewing her on campus last week. This was after interviewing Athletics Director Chet Gladchuk's son to find out if he was really a vegetarian.


Max Lacayo/The Daily Cougar


The financial details of Dana Dimel's, UH's head football coach, contract (right and shown here with KHOU's Giff Nielson), were published in Sunday's edition of the Houston Chronicle.

The extent the Chronicle is going to these days to find something wrong with the athletic department here at UH is getting preposterous. This past Sunday, there were three stories dedicated to providing vital information to the city of Houston. 

I am sure that Houstonians of all ages were glued to the entire story which took up the better part of two pages. 

There were three stories. One was on the "creative methods" used by UH to pay new football head coach Dana Dimel's contract. One was on Tom Osborne's opinion on our schedule. The third story was on the proposed contract for Bob Pruitt which was torn up when he backed out.

These stories are valid, but not to the extent to which they were covered. My argument here is that the Chronicle sent out their "detectives" in order to find out if some illegal fund-raising was going on. Since they did not find anything wrong, they passed off their stories as positive publicity for UH.

There was no reason to discuss Pruitt's contract to the extent it was covered. It only stands to reason that they were again looking for negatives, only to find nothing.

Now, I can understand Jerry Wizig writing this story. I can even understand Neal Farmer writing it. Both of these men have been covering UH athletics for years -- especially Wizig -- who has been here since the days of Bill Yeoman. 

Both Robbins and co-writer David Barron, who is the associate sports editor for the Chronicle, are both UT graduates. When was the last time you saw an exposé on that program? When are we going to find what (football players) Kwame Cavil and Aaron Humphrey actually did to warrant suspension from this year's Cotton Bowl? When was the last time you heard anything negative about the Longhorns in "Houston's leading information source"?

The fact that there is only one large daily newspaper in Houston is hurting the city. I respect the intent of what the Chronicle was doing, but you can't expect this sort of thing to go unnoticed. And it's just not Cougar fans and alums who are voicing their displeasure.

KILT talk show host Lance Zierlein, whose father is a college football coach at the University of Cincinnati, is also a bit perturbed at this.

"The tone of the article itself was not troubling to me. But I do question why the two contracts of Dimel and Pruitt were put side to side. What purpose did it serve when Pruitt is not part of the University? Why is it newsworthy when he was never announced?"

There have now been several stories on UH athletics that have made either the front page, or the front page of the sports section. The problem is that during football season, most of the UH game stories are put inside of the paper, while UT and Texas A&M get top billing. 

Apparently, this is because there are more Aggie and Longhorn alums in the city than Cougar fans. Why then, does an expose article on UH always get top billing. Shouldn't that also fall inside the paper just as the game stories always do? When it came to Antonio Falu, the UH police officer story that ran last week and several other stories -- they are always big news. But more often than not they are negative or have a negative tone.

There are questions to be raised at every school. It comes down to what the editors want and feel like publishing.

Just to let you know, not only are Barron and Robbins UT alums, Dan Cunningham, the sports editor of the Chronicle is also a Longhorn alum. I attempted to contact them for comment, but they were not available.

By the way, the first few paragraphs of this article were satire. The last thing I need is someone investigating me. God knows I don't go to UT and my driving record is terrible.
 

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