A former Michigan State medical school dean is facing sexual misconduct charges.
On Tuesday, ESPN reporter Dan Murphy tweeted a link to an article he wrote about the charges against the dean, William Strampel. Later in the day, MSU football coach Mark Dantonio tore into Murphy over a photograph that accompanied the article on Twitter:
The image was of Spartan Stadium during a tribute to Mike Sadler, a former Michigan State punter who died in a car crash in 2016. The school honored Sadler by putting his No. 3 on the Spartan helmet at midfield at the football stadium, as shown here:
If you look at Murphy’s tweet now, the image that accompanies the link to his story is a picture of Strampel, the man who’s accused of sexual abuse:
Murphy explained how an image of a Sadler memorial came to be attached to the article on social media. (There’s no photo currently on the actual article page.)
That's a stock photo that generates automatically when we send out a tweet. It's not included in the story and certainly was not put there intentionally. I apologize if anyone was offended by it. https://t.co/UUKipyzqZu— Dan Murphy (@DanMurphyESPN) March 27, 2018
Murphy’s note came five hours before Dantonio’s criticism of him. A foundation that honors Sadler’s legacy tweeted about the photo before Dantonio did.
Asking @DanMurphyESPN to kindly remove the photo associated with his story on William Strampel. Mike Sadler stood for everything GREAT at MSU. Please don't associate his name or image with someone who didn't.— MikeSadlerFoundation (@Sadler_3) March 27, 2018
Sometimes, updated Twitter link images show up differently for different users. It’s a caching issue. Lots about Twitter’s platform can lead to confusion.
At most media outlets, writers don’t choose the headlines or photographs that accompany their articles. There are sometimes exceptions, but this probably wasn’t Murphy’s decision, and it probably wasn’t intentional.
It’s not uncommon for editors to look for standard photos of some team’s logo or stadium when there aren’t more specific shots in the photo wires outlets pay for. An editor could easily overlook something like the Sadler tribute without having any ill will.