Update: It's now OK for Ron Morris to write about South Carolina football, according to Jim Romenesko.
One thing is clear: Henry Haitz III, left, publisher of the McClatchy-owned The State in Columbia, S.C., is unfit to hold any position in the newspaper business.
In a blow to journalism, Haitz banned sports columnist Ron Morris, middle, from covering South Carolina football, according to a spectacular piece on Jim Romenesko's site.
Gamecock coach Steve Spurrier, right, had called the columnist a "negative guy" after disagreeing with some of Morris' writings. In 2011, Spurrier refused to talk with reporters while Morris was in the room.
Morris, from that point forward, was reportedly told by his bosses to not ask questions of Spurrier.
But Spurrier's feelings of insecurity continued. Last September, the coach believed Morris was planting questions with other reporters and said, "I don't need any questions today," before leaving.
That led to Haitz's involvement. He wanted Morris fired, but executive editor Mark Lett stepped in and kept the columnist on staff with restrictions, including having Morris' column ideas approved by Lett.
Morris' list of restrictions recently grew longer. He was asked by Haitz to sign a list of things he could not do, including not writing about South Carolina football or talking about it on TV or radio.
"It was a journalism restraining order," one of Morris' ex-colleagues told Romenesko.
To replace Morris on Gamecock coverage, the newspaper hired self-described superfan Glenn Snyder, a contract writer who has atteneded 343 South Carolina games in a row.
"I love the University of South Carolina. I love Steve Spurrier. … Coach Spurrier and I have become friends," Snyder, 67, told Romenesko.
What is Spurrier's role in this? "I did call The State newspaper and put in a good word for [Snyder], and they hired him." he said.
Spurrier, 68, also acknowledged talking with Haitz, who he met through longtime Gamecock Radio Network announcer Tommy Suggs.
Snyder was asked about Morris being taken off the beat.
"I can't go there," he said.
Morris, who earlier lost a weekly gig on a Columbia TV station over this, now covers rival Clemson.
CBS Sports columnist Gregg Doyel wrote about the situation last October, and Spurrier was predicting then that changes would be made.
"We need to make some changes and I really believe between [South Carolina] president [Harris] Pastides and the guy that runs the newspaper, that some good changes are coming forth," Spurrier said. "And I encourage the people that cancelled their subscriptions last year, when some of this crap started last year, to give the newspaper and our university a chance. I believe that our city is going to be better off. ...
"The city of Columbia and the University of South Carolina, our newspaper, we're all going to get along better, which is what it's all about and, hopefully, that can come from this week 'cause we've had some serious discussions about things."
And now it has happened.
No shortage of shame or blame to go around.
Perhaps Chris Haire of the Charleston City Paper summed it best:
"On and for the record, Gamecock fans, the Steve Spurrier era is a kidney stone. It will pass and it will be painful and you will end up watching all of your hopes and dreams be flushed away. Go Tigers."