Could Freeman Return to ‘NY Times?’

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By: Joe Strupp

Sports columnist Mike Freeman lost his job at The Indianapolis Star before it even started by lying on his resume about being a college graduate. Is it possible Freeman’s former employer, The New York Times, would bring him back to his old sportswriting post?

“I have been in touch with him to see if he is OK,” said Tom Jolly, Times (Click for QuikCap) Sports Editor and a 10-year sports department veteran. When asked if he believed Freeman could return, Jolly did not rule it out, but added, “I don’t think that is something anyone has talked about here.”

Freeman, 37, resigned from his new post at the Star (Click for QuikCap) on Friday, three days before he was to have started the job. The resignation followed revelations that he had lied to the Star about graduating from college.

Jolly said Freeman had never misrepresented his educational background to him or his paper, pointing out that the Times does not have a college degree requirement. “There was never a suggestion of any of that,” Jolly told E&P. “Mike’s career here speaks for itself, he did some great work here.”

Freeman could not be reached for comment Monday.

Although Freeman had written occasional columns for the Times, Jolly said he had sought a permanent columnist position and chose to go to the Star for that reason. “I understood his desire to become a columnist and he left on good terms.”

Editors at the Star learned from an outside tip that Freeman had lied about being a college graduate, which eventually led to his resignation, according to Editor Dennis Ryerson.

“Somebody from outside the paper informed us of the discrepancy,” Ryerson told E&P on Monday, declining to offer more specifics. “It was last week, but I don’t recall the exact date. There were discussions afterward, but I am not going to get into the specifics as it is a personnel matter.”

But Freeman apparently lied for nothing since the Star does not have a college degree requirement for writers, said Ryerson, a college dropout himself.

Freeman had been a sports reporter for the past 10 years at the Times, where he covered the NBA and NFL, according to the Associated Press. He previously worked at The Dallas Morning News, Boston Globe and The Washington Post.

The columnist had been set to begin work at the Star today, but quit Friday after discussions with editors about his resume. The Star published a short note to readers on its Web site Friday explaining the situation, which include a statement from Freeman.

“While in the process of interviewing for the (Star) position, I filled out an application form and stated I was a graduate of the University of Delaware. I also, for the first time ever, stated this fact on my resume,” the statement said, in part. “These were lies. I was at the university for four years but in fact did not graduate. This was a terrible and unforgivable manipulation of the facts and I have resigned from my newly accepted position as columnist for the Star. It was the only time I have told such falsehoods and no other deceptions have ever appeared in any of my newspaper stories or two books at any time in my 16-years of practicing journalism. Nevertheless, the information I gave the Star was wrong and I will be punished with the loss of my newspaper career.”

Ryerson said the paper had begun a search for a new sports columnist. When asked if any new procedures would be put in place to better review resumes, he said only “we are always looking at how we do things.”

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