USC ends reporter’s suspension after he has ‘long conversation’ with Lincoln Riley

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Aug 26, 2023; Los Angeles, California, USA; Southern California Trojans head coach Lincoln Riley following the victory against the San Jose State Spartans at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
The reporter wrote an article that “was not accurate,” USC head coach Lincoln Riley said Tuesday. (Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports)

A reporter from the Southern California News Group is no longer suspended from covering the USC football team, according to a pair of statements shared via social media Thursday.

Luca Evans, who writes for the Orange County Register and SCNG, was issued a two-week suspension Tuesday for allegedly violating the school’s media guidelines.

Two days later, he took to X to provide the update of his restored access, which came after a “long conversation” with head coach Lincoln Riley.

“Riley made it clear his intent to protect his players. I made it clear my intent has always been to tell compelling, honest stories on USC,” Evans’ statement said, in part.

Riley apparently took issue with a story Evans published last week about freshman running back Quinten Joyner.

In the lede of that story, Evans detailed a seemingly normal conversation between Joyner and fellow freshman Braylan Shelby. The conversation, which occurred in front of reporters but before media availability, was about how they were nervous to speak with journalists — something that was new to them. Evans even spoke to Joyner’s father on the phone later, and his dad thought the conversation was funny and spot-on.

But USC claimed Evans violated its policy that prohibits reporting on anything outside of media availability in the practice facility. When Riley was asked to elaborate Tuesday, he opted not to, simply adding “we felt it was far enough that we needed to act on it.” He also said, “the article in question was not accurate.”

On Thursday, Riley confirmed the phone call with Evans in a statement of his own:

“Last night, I received a call from Luca Evans, and we had very candid and productive conversation. We agreed that we both could have handled the situation differently,” Riley wrote in statement shared by Los Angeles Times reporter Ryan Kartje. “I appreciate Luca recognizing the policies we have in place to protect our student-athletes and acknowledging to adhere to those in the future. We welcome Luca back to practice and look forward to his continuing coverage of the Trojans”

This comes after Orange County Register senior editor Todd Harmonson, sports editor Tom Moore and SCNG publisher Ron Hasse also penned a letter to the university formally asking for the suspension to be lifted. The university stood by the football team in response, so it’s fortunate Evans and Riley came to this outcome through their conversation.

No. 5 USC will travel to face Arizona State on Saturday.

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