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OSAA tightens credentials policy over alleged inappropriate messages between media outlet and HS girls

'We haven’t really had a situation like that come up before,' official says

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- The Oregon Schools Activities Association is tightening its media credentialing policy due to reports of inappropriate conduct by an Oregon media outlet.

Peter Weber, the executive director of OSAA, said the youth sports organization has added a new written policy, determining who has exclusive access when covering high school sports.

“Really wanted to focus on who are we credentialing, who will we not credential,” Weber said Thursday. “Make it clear we have the ability to issue a pass, or to revoke a pass, if we feel it’s deemed necessary.”

Also this week, three students with Grant High School Magazine published “The Cost of Coverage”, an article detailing alleged “inappropriate conduct” between female high school athletes and the owner of Elite Oregon Girls.

NewsChannel 21 asked Weber if this change was a direct result of the situation with Elite Oregon Girls. 

“I think it certainly was the impetus behind it,” Weber said. “We haven’t really had a situation like that come up before.”

Elite Oregon Girls is a sports media site, exclusively covering and highlighting high school-aged girls.

Its Twitter and Instagram pages have more than 10,000 followers.

Last May, the Salem-Keizer School District banned the site owner from coming to events.

The Grant High article cites several text message conversations, which could be deemed inappropriate or too personal for a media member and high school girls.

The OSAA was notified in June, and revoked the owner's pass this week.

“When we became aware of those concerns, we reached out to our legal counsel to find out where we stand on this,” Weber said.

One parent of a Bend-La Pine athlete tells NewsChannel 21 her daughter had an uneasy feeling after an interaction with the website owner at an OSAA event.

She said he was spending time with her team, chatting and asking questions.

When she asked why he was talking to them, he said he was working, despite not taking any notes or asking game-related questions.

A few weeks ago, the owner announced he would stop running the site.

As of Thursday, the site has been made private.

The OSAA could expand its credential requirements in the future, following suit with some other states in the west.

“We just wanted to make sure and to get something on the books so that we felt comfortable taking action when we needed to,” Weber said. 

NewsChannel 21’s reached out to Elite Oregon Girls, and Friday near 2:00pm the owner issued this statement:

"Grant Magazine deliberately withheld contextual insight regarding those Instagram messages, misleading the public to believe that it was done with inappropriate intentions. Further, they withheld information I provided them with in our interview, taking partial quotes and applying them to the piece to fit their narrative. The article is being thoroughly reviewed and legal action is being considered. I have no further comment on any potential actions."

Article Topic Follows: Sports

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Noah Chast

Noah Chast is a multimedia journalist for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Noah here.


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