The football team is practicing as hard as ever despite the recent decision, made by head coach Gary Patterson, to close practice to the public, said tight end Chad Andrus.Patterson said the decision protects the interest of his team and the university.
“My job is to protect my football team,” Patterson said. “I mean, they’re my players. This is my job to protect them.”
Patterson said he made the choice to close practice after he learned that a visitor, posing as a fan, attended practice, took notes and posted injury information on the Web that was not to be released.
“Injuries are something you can’t – by legality – you can’t talk about anymore,” Patterson said.
As of Thursday, TCU football practices will only be open to registered members of the media.
Andrus said Patterson warned his players about conversing with spectators.
“Coach said to be careful about what we say and who we say it to,” Andrus said.
Patterson informed the players of the incident the day after it happened, Andrus said.
Mark Cohen, athletics media relations director, said Oklahoma, TCU’s first opponent, currently has closed practices as well.
“Why should our practices have a public record if we don’t know what they’re doing?” Cohen said.
Closed practices are becoming more common, but Cohen said others’ decisions to do so are not receiving as much heat as Patterson’s.
“On average, there were only 15-20 people coming to practice, so it’s not like hoards of people were being turned away,” he said.
A reporter from www.rivals.com wore a TCU cap and attended the practice after signing in as a fan. He admitted to being from the Web site when approached by a trainer.
Most recently, a fan posted updates to a forum on www.killerfrogs.com.
TCU graduate Wes Phelan, an administrator for the Web site, said the site is run entirely by fans, whose purpose should be to support the team, not hurt it.
Cohen said the Web site contained some of the most detailed injury and depth chart information he had seen.
He compared having in-depth information posted on the Internet, where it is readily accessible to the masses, to having an OU coach at a practice.
Previously, the policy has been that guests sign in with the football office, Cohen said. This ensured the coaches knew who was attending the practices.
Phelan said Patterson can do what he wants, but his decision has generated too much media attention.
“I feel that they’re making a mountain out of a molehill,” he said.
But players say something different.
“I support coach 100 percent,” Andrus said of the decision.
Cohen and Andrus agreed that the decision was made with the interest of the players and the program in mind.
Frog fans must wait until Sept. 15 to see the team play at home against Utah.