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Statement issued regarding Columbia columnist, South Carolina

By Chip Patterson | College Football/Basketball Writer

It is not uncommon for a college football coach to have a combative relationship with members of the local media. Everyone has a job to do, and both parties find a way to make the job harder -- or at least, less pleasurable -- for the other over the course of a football season.

South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier has made a point to criticize the writing of Ron Morris, columnist for The State in Columbia, S.C., once refusing to answer questions with Morris in the room.

It was reported this week by JimRomenesko.com that Morris was removed from the South Carolina football beat and asked to stop talking about the Gamecocks on TV and radio. Morris is now covering Clemson and writing about the national college football scene.

Spurrier denied that he forced Morris off the beat, but admits that his complaints about the writer were far from private.

"Ron Morris just wrote stuff that wasn't true about me and I reacted," Spurrier said. "I was fine with him the first five or six years here, and then he would write stuff that wasn't true."

In late August, The State hired 67-year-old Glenn Snyder as a contract writer for South Carolina football. Spurrier told JimRomenesko.com that he "put in a good word" for Snyder, and the new Gamecocks writer claims the two have become friends. Still, Spurrier denies that he had a role in Morris' departure from the beat.

"I complained to the world about him. I complained to Gamecock Nation on my radio show. But don't put that on me," Spurrier said of the changes at The State. "He is responsible for that."

After several national sites picked up on the Romenesko report, The State's executive editor Mark Lett wrote a memo to the paper's staff. Deadspin was forwarded a copy of the email, which you can read below.

Colleagues,

I assume you are familiar with articles and talk about The State, Steve Spurrier and Ron Morris.

Please know this today: Ron Morris and other columnists at The State are free to pursue topics and stories as guided by their curiosity, their news judgment, their obligation to readers and our standards for quality journalism. No subject or individual is off limits for examination.

Relationships can be difficult between news makers and journalists, especially those who write analysis, commentary and opinion. You all understand why. Around here, much has been said and written about Spurrier and Ron — in blogs, on the web, on talk shows and in other publications. . As with any relationship, it sometimes helps to step back and allow conditions to cool. In recent months, we asked Ron to draw upon his considerable sports knowledge and experience to produce highly readable, relevant columns and enterprise features.The work has been outstanding and has given sports fans much to enjoy and to think about. During this time, we asked Ron to focus first on coverage other than the USC football program.

Moving forward, all topics — including USC football — are in play. As always, this is a newspaper committed to accuracy, fairness and holding accountable the news makers and institutions that serve our community and our state.

 
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