Ky. university, newspaper reach compromise on stadium distribution

KENTUCKY -- The Kentucky Kernel came to a compromise on Saturday with University of Kentucky officials over distribution at Commonwealth Stadium.

Under the agreement, the Kernel is allowed three boxes near the stadium where two Kernel staffers per box can pass out copies until two hours before each home footballgame.

"We are happy that we are at least given that compromise but still, we are not allowed to be wherever we want on the stadium grounds and it still doesn't do anything for any other publication or people who want to make a statement in the area," Kernel editor Matt Murray said.

Prior to the Saturday homecoming football game, the Kernel was banned from distributing the paper before football games due to an exclusive advertising and marketing contract with IMG College. Last week, Kernel staffers told the Student Press Law Center they had been distributing at games for years without any issue from the school or IMG.

Murray said UK spokesman Jay Blanton called the Kernel for a meeting four hours before the game on Saturday, at which time the agreement was made.

In a Monday interview, Blanton said the main issue was crowd control and streamlining the university publication policy. In an interview last week, Blanton said the main concern was the contract with IMG.

"The university's concern all along was being able to maintain a reasonable policy for how publications are distributed on the campus," Blanton said. "We have concerns about the fact that because IMG has exclusivity for media and broadcast rights with respect to athletics and that having the Kernel in and around in the crowd would cause a potential safety problem."

SPLC attorney Mike Hiestand said the school's policy could raise constitutional issues.

"I don't think [the reasons given on Saturday] are valid concerns to be raised at this point," Hiestand said. "If [Kernel staffers] think this allows them to reasonably get their message out and they are happy with it, then it is a fair compromise. However if they think it impedes their ability to get the paper out to the people that want it then they would have grounds to challenge it."

Murray said the Kernel is looking at the IMG contract closely before scheduling another meeting with the school.

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