Tom Hart will no longer be voting in the 2010 AP football poll due to his recent change in employment to the Big Ten Network. Pollspeak reported the potential for bias directly to the AP on August, 22nd, the day after the preseason AP football poll was released.
As we also mentioned in our previous blog: “…this is the first time we know of where an AP Voter has a formal relationship with a specific conference. While there is no hint of Big Ten bias in his preseason ballot, it will be worth keeping an eye out for it as the season progresses. In fact, he ranked incoming member Nebraska, lowest of any voter.”
Even though there was no bias in favor of the Big Ten in Hart’s ballot, to their credit, the AP responded swiftly and did the right thing by replacing Hart as a voter. The AP’s willingness to address even the potential for bias, once again, demonstrates why Pollspeak gives it their highest ranking.
When originally contacting the AP, we quoted their own rules against similar relationships:
· Voters should have no professional or booster connection to the schools they cover. This could pose a conflict of interest.
· Voters cannot write for team media guides or even independent fan magazines associated with certain schools. This has the potential of compromising a reporter's objectivity.
These rules show the intention of the AP to limit bias in the AP Poll, and even though there is no specific mention of “conference” affiliation, the intention is clear.
Hart’s preseason ballot will be his last for this season. He will be replaced in “week 2” (in the AP’s numbering system) by Dave Curtis of The Sporting News.