Every AD needs to demand media NDAs. Today’s startling news from Wake Forest should make every major college athletic director sit up and take notice. Former 2014 assistant (to then-head coach Jim Grobe) Tommy Elrod, in his new position as radio announcer covering Wake games, apparently engaged in a pattern of leaking game plans, over a period of years, to Wake opponents. It all first surfaced during last month’s Wake game against Louisville.
Elrod’s appalling behavior exposes a weakness in an ‘unwritten rule’ within the industry, which is that home reporters understand that any pre-game information which they obtain is confidential and cannot be disclosed to anyone.
The game, within Power 5 conferences, anyway, has gotten too big, and the financial stakes are too high.
Any prudent athletic director now must do two things:
- Insure that any media member with any kind of ongoing, consistent homer status ‘ executes a Non-Disclosure Agreement, carefully drafted to address these peculiar ‘homer’ circumstances, and which will preclude disclosure of any information pre-game.
- Ask for written confirmation that the radio or TV station which employs the media member with access to show proof of sufficient Errors and Omissions coverage, which might make whole the team (like Wake) which could be harmed by a breach of the NDA.
The damages inflicted by Tommy Elrod are difficult to imagine — but also difficult to limit. Suppose a serious of emails or texts, or other evidence, shows a pattern of weekly advance contact with Wake opponents, in advance of Wake games, to leak Wake game plans. The damages include lost ticket sales, TV income, and damage to Wake Forest reputation and goodwill. Elrod, by appearances, has significantly interfered with Wake’s business relations. Take note, athletic directors.