By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

Thank God we’re a two-newspaper town*

The Globe knows what we need, but the Herald knows what we want. In today’s Globe, Barbara Matson reports that Boston College women’s hockey coach Tom Mutch has resigned over “allegations of inappropriate conduct with a student-athlete.” Oh, yes. We get the picture.

Well, actually, we didn’t — at least, we didn’t until we turned to the Herald, which makes the Mutch resignation the subject of its front-page splash: “SEX SCANDAL ICES COACH.” Inside, we learn this, from reporter Laurel Sweet:

Hockey East Coach of the Year Tom Mutch, 39, who’s married and whose wife just had a baby, abruptly stepped down hours after the Herald began making inquiries to authorities at the Heights.

Sexually graphic text messages that BC hockey star [name omitted by Media Nation], 19, allegedly wrote to Mutch were discovered on a cell phone [she] gave to a teammate, neglecting to delete them first, sources said.

One source familiar with the messages described them as “filthy. They were very sexual in nature.”

And, oh yeah, there’s this: “Sources stressed that BC’s probe had yet to find an actual sexual relationship between Mutch and [the student].”

I’m under no illusions about protecting the 19-year-old student’s identity — I’m withholding it as a protest, and a rather futile one at that. I like reading about sex-related scandals as much as anyone, and the fact that BC officials are taking this so seriously means that Mutch is definitely fair game.

But to blast this on the front, and to identify the young woman at the center of this, seems way out of line, especially since all the facts are not yet in. Sweet deserves credit for breaking this story, but her editors blew it way out of proportion.

Update: The Heights, Boston College’s student newspaper, is reporting the student’s name as well. So I’ll concede that I may be alone on this one.

*With apologies, as always, to Boston Magazine, which used to have great fun with this feature.

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  1. Anonymous

    Excuse me, but may I ask, why aren’t a 39-year-old man and a 19-year-old woman free to trade sexually explicit text messages if they so desire?Just wondered about that.

  2. Anonymous

    holy smokes, dan, when did you become such a broadsheet snob? as for anon 11;36: they are free to trade whatever they please, including bodily fluids. and BC is free to fire them for it. no one is going to jail. life is all about choices.

  3. Dan Kennedy

    Anon 11:44: Maybe it’s teaching at a university and being reminded of exactly how young and immature 19-year-olds really are. Plus, as you and others have observed, no crime has been committed — certainly not by the student, and not by the ex-coach, either.

  4. Dan Kennedy

    P.S. You’re right about the broadsheet snobbery … the tabloid format means I just can’t take The Heights seriously. 😉

  5. Anonymous

    Word was BC was going to keep this quiet and Mutch might have stayed. Scary that this type of conduct may have been overlooked – especially a coach over a woman’s college team.And for all of you wondering why this is such a big deal . . . shame on you. This is a man put in a coaching/teaching position over a women’s team and his conduct should be better than this. We expect too little of leadership. Does a crime really need to be committed? Do we value moral excellence at all in our teachers and leaders? I would be shocked if he was allowed to stay.

  6. Dan Kennedy

    Anon 1:17: If Mutch and the student were actually having a sexual affair, then he absolutely should have been fired. I don’t think anyone is saying otherwise. People are simply observing that 19 is over the age of consent.

  7. Rick in Duxbury

    As a BC alum, this speaks to a question that presents itself more frequently these days. Are Catholic institutions really different? Maybe, maybe not. If so, how and why? What role do religious precepts play in a theoretically “religious” institution? Is something OK as long as it is legal? As you said Dan, 19 year olds can be less mature than they or others think. IMHO, this is a “power” issue not unlike that confronted in the workplace every day. The young woman messed up. The coach messed up A LOT. If neither one of them was aware of boundaries, (what and why), shame on BC. (BTW, my latest check to BC just cleared).

  8. Anonymous

    Well the story is false, and that will soon be out there too.

  9. Don

    Apparently we need Mutch more information, and I don’t mean the lurid details.

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