Steve Spurrier doesn’t want columnist Ron Morris to write about his team. This being South Carolina, the college football coach got his wish.
Morris, a respected columnist for The State newspaper in Columbia, S.C., was banned by his publisher from covering the Gamecocks, Jim Romenesko reports. Morris, who has angered Spurrier in the past few years with his critical columns, has reportedly been reassigned to mostly cover Clemson.
“The publisher of the paper has removed Ron from any coverage of the football program, which down there is akin to The Washington Post not letting Dan Balz write about government,” a former Morris colleague told Romenesko. “Effectively, he’s being forced out at the behest of the football coach, with the publisher not standing up for him.”
After Spurrier refused multiple times to speak with reporters while Morris was present, The State’s publisher, Henry Haitz III, wanted to fire Morris, according to Romenesko. Executive editor Mark Lett talked Haitz out of it, apparently, by making it clear there were no grounds for dismissal.
Haitz made Morris apologize to readers and Spurrier in print, and has ramped up coverage by adding a USC “Superfan” to its Gamecocks coverage. But Spurrier insists he made no direct demand to The State that Morris be removed.
“I complained to the world about him,” Spurrier told Romenesko. “I complained to Gamecock Nation on my radio show. But don’t put that on me. … He is responsible for that.”