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Writer will not personally defeat Fever after interacting with Caitlin Clark
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Writer will not personally defeat Fever after interacting with Caitlin Clark

INDIANAPOLIS – Indianapolis Star sports columnist Gregg Doyel, whose interaction with WNBA No. 1 draft pick Caitlin Clark during her introductory press conference was criticized as inappropriate in the national media, will not personally cover the Indiana Fever this season.

Gannett spokesperson Lark-Marie Antón said in a statement that the Star’s corporate owner does not comment on personnel matters, but added: “Indianapolis Star sports columnist Gregg Doyel will not cover the Indiana Fever.”

Former Star sportswriter Bob Kravitz first reported the decision, citing anonymous sources, and also that Doyel had been suspended for two weeks, which Antón would not confirm. Doyel’s most recent column appeared on April 29.

Doyel apologized for the interaction with Clark during a press conference in Indianapolis, two days after the Fever selected the Iowa star with the No. 1 overall pick in the WNBA draft. When it was Doyel’s turn to ask a question, he made a heart shape with his hands toward Clark, who is known for gesturing to family members during her matches. That was followed by this exchange:

Clark: “Do you like that?”

Doyel: “I like you being here, I like you being here.”

Clark: “Yeah, I do that with my family after every game, so… Pretty cool.”

Doyel: “Well, start doing that with me and we’ll get along just fine.”

The interaction was roundly panned as awkward at best, inappropriate and even creepy at worst. Doyel apologized on social media and again in a column.

“In my haste to be smart, to be familiar and welcoming (or so I thought), I offended Caitlin and her family,” he wrote. “After going through denial and then anger — am I on the wrong side? Me??? — I now realize what I said and how I said it was wrong, wrong, wrong. I mean, it was just wrong.”

Doyel did not immediately respond to an emailed request for comment on Wednesday. The Fever are expected to be one of the biggest draws during the WNBA season that starts next week.