Newspaper says its reporter was blocked from covering Deion Sanders over domestic violence story

·4-min read

A testy exchange over being called his own name apparently wasn't Deion Sanders' only conflict with The Clarion Ledger newspaper this week.

The Clarion Ledger reported Tuesday this week that two Jackson State officials blocked its reporter Rashad Milligan from covering Sanders' appearance at SWAC media day, one day after Milligan published a story about a domestic violence allegation against Quaydarius Davis, the highest-rated recruit in school history.

From The Clarion Ledger:

“A Clarion Ledger reporter was punished for simply doing his job," Clarion Ledger Executive Editor Marlon A. Walker said. "The decision to interfere with a working journalist not only is disappointing but also intolerable.

"It runs counter to the Clarion Ledger’s unwavering mission to freely and fully inform readers throughout Mississippi. It is imperative to stand strong against any attempts to disrupt that effort.”

A Jackson State spokesperson reportedly responded to a request for comment by saying Milligan has not been banned from covering future events.

Clarion Ledger reported March allegation against Davis

The day before SWAC media day, The Clarion Ledger published a story from Milligan reporting that Davis had a court hearing scheduled Tuesday after being charged with "assault causes bodily injury family violence," a misdemeanor in Texas. 

Davis, a 6-foot wide receiver out of Dallas, is rated as a four-star recruit by Rivals and the No. 59 overall player in the country. His attorney reportedly said his client plans to plead not guilty.

Per The Clarion Ledger, Davis was accused of hitting a woman he had been dating and living with. On March 24, a friend of the woman reportedly posted a since-deleted photo on social media of the woman in a hospital gown with an eye swollen shut and a cut on her lip.

At the time, Davis had been committed to play for Kansas, but the Jayhawks reportedly cut ties with Davis after the allegation came to light. He would commit to Jackson State months later.

How Jackson State allegedly froze out reporter

The Clarion Ledger alleges that Jackson State athletics spokesperson Dennis Driscoll told Milligan that publishing the story on Davis could lead to removal of his access.

After the story was published, JSU athletics director Ashley Robinson allegedly told Milligan that the story was inaccurate and said that he would be better off covering Alcorn State and Mississippi Valley State, the SWAC's other Mississippi schools, at media day.

When Milligan showed up for media day, Driscoll and JSU director of internal football operations LaToya Williams told him that he could not interview the program's players and coaches. When he waited to interview Shedeau Sanders, another top recruit and Sanders' son, Driscoll allegedly told him “Sorry, you won’t be able to talk today.”

Williams also allegedly told him he would not be permitted to even listen and record interviews because of the Davis story. Two other Clarion Ledger staffers reported that Williams did not allow interviews to begin while Milligan was present.

Deion Sanders clashed with another Clarion Ledger reporter

Sanders and The Clarion Ledger had already been in the news all Tuesday, but for far less serious reasons.

During Sanders' news conference at media day, the NFL Hall of Famer took exception when Nick Suss, usually The Clarion Ledger's Ole Miss reporter, called him by his first name. Sanders justified his demand for such treatment by claiming that Nick Saban would curse out reporters if they called him "Nick" (which isn't true) and asked to be treated like Saban.

When Suss again called him "Deion," Sanders walked out of the conference, then boasted about it on social media:

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The full exchange:

Sanders: "Let me get Nick, let me get Nick. Nick's a good guy."

Suss: "Hey Deion, was just wondering if you could—"

Sanders: "Hold on, let's back up a little bit. You don't call Nick Saban 'Nick.' Don't call me Deion."

Suss: "I call Nick Saban 'Nick.'"

Sanders: "No you don't, that's a lie. If you call Nick 'Nick,' you know you’ll get cussed out on the spot, so don’t do that to me. Treat me like Nick."

Suss: "OK, Deion."

Sanders: "Alright. (walks out)"

The whole episode soon made national headlines, and now seems likely to amplify coverage of Jackson State's handling of the domestic violence allegations against Davis.

Sanders is entering his second season as head coach at Jackson State, which went 4-3 this spring in a season postponed and shortened by the COVID-19 pandemic. So far, in addition to results on the field, Sanders' tenure has been defined by big recruiting wins and bizarre incidents.

Jackson State opens its 2021 season against Florida A&M on Sept. 5. 

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