ECU streaker photos weren't why advisor lost job, school says

A blurred image of the photo that ran in the student newspaper.
A blurred image of the photo that ran in the student newspaper.

GREENVILLE, NC (WBTV) - East Carolina University won't say why it fired the student newspaper's adviser, but is asking people to trust that it's not related to the paper's decision to print full-frontal photos of a streaker at a football game.

The Greenville university issued a statement from vice chancellor for student affairs Virginia Hardy saying the decision to replace newspaper adviser Paul Isom was correct, legal and unrelated to free-press issues.

Hardy's statement says the U.S. Constitution demands that public universities allow student journalists to make their own news decisions and learn from them without interference.

First Amendment groups have criticized East Carolina for firing Isom. He says his evaluations were positive but his relationship with administrators deteriorated after the streaker photos appeared in the campus newspaper two months ago.

Earlier this month, officials wouldn't comment in an email concerning the release of the adviser of school's student media, which includes a newspaper that published streaking photos.

Hardy said in an email to WBTV that, "We will not make any additional comment because this is a personnel matter."

Isom, the director of student media, says he was fired, following the football streaking incident in November, WNCT reported.

Isom has been with ECU since 2008, Hardy's email said. THe email also said that Isom was no longer with the University.

Isom says on his Facebook page that the streaker pictures started it all, WNCT reported.

In mid-November, The East Carolinian posted a full frontal picture of a male streaker running across the field at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium.

John Sieglinger, 21, of Wake Technical Community College in Raleigh was charged with indecent exposure and 1st degree trespassing, WNCT reported. ECU Police arrested Sieglinger for streaking at the football game that Saturday.

At the time the article was published in The East Carolinian, a statement was released by Hardy that said, "The decision by The East Carolinian to publish a photo of a streaker that showed full frontal nudity was in very poor taste. The leadership at East Carolina University does not agree with that decision and does not support it."

The email from Hardy said that Isom oversaw all campus student media outlets and directly advised three of them. That includes the student-run The East Carolinian newspaper, The Rebel and the Buccaneer yearbook.

Copyright 2012 WBTV. WNCT contributed to this report.