Ole Miss suffered one of the most heartbreaking losses in recent college football history this past Saturday, when what appeared to be a game-winning touchdown over Auburn instead turned into a game-losing touchdown and a season-ending injury for star wide receiver Laquon Treadwell. The loss likely ended the Rebels' chances of securing a playoff berth, and the defeat coupled with the horrific injury brought back old memories for Ole Miss.
The pain from that loss was compounded the next day, when the Opelika-Auburn News used a graphic image of Treadwell's injury on its front page.
Here is the cover of the Opelika-Auburn Newspaper. I did a black out job on his lower legs pic.twitter.com/SuV12VgVmK— TheHoundztooth (@TheHoundztooth) November 2, 2014
The newspaper released a statement after outrage followed the cover, saying they chose to use that photo because it was a crucial play in the game.
Ole Miss athletic director Ross Bjork wrote a letter to the newspaper, expressing his displeasure with the newspaper's editorial judgment.
After careful thought and consideration, I feel compelled to express my disappointment in the way you reported the outcome of the Auburn vs. Ole Miss game. Specifically, the way you sensationalized a moment with a grossly depicted image that affects a young man's life. Furthermore, your response to criticism from readers could be described as nothing short of digging your heels in. Quite simply and most disappointing, you showed no signs of remorse for the incredible lapse of judgment.
We run our athletics department with a well-defined purpose, and we operate daily using seven core values to guide us. Together, those core values comprise our "line in the sand," and we will defend them when attacked. It is our belief that your actions are at odds with those of those core values: Student-Athlete Welfare and Social Responsibility. So, it is for that reason that I have written to you.
In closing, we know of no other newspaper that has used such a graphic image of a student-athlete's injury in such a sensationalist way and sincerely hope you have not created a precedent for this type of crass journalism.
Director of Athletics
University of Mississippi