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USC football team lifts two-week suspension of reporter over violation of media policies

The USC football program Thursday lifted a two-week suspension it had imposed on a Southern California News Group reporter over what the university contended were violations of its media policies.

The lifting of the suspension, which was originally expected to last through Sept. 28, follows a Wednesday night phone call between head football coach Lincoln Riley and reporter Luca Evans.

In a statement, Evans said he had a long conversation with Riley, "sharing our perspectives on the events that led to USC suspending my access."

"Riley made it clear his intent is to protect his players," Evans said. "I made it clear my intent has always been to tell compelling, honest stories on USC — I respect and understand the program's outlined policies regarding media access, and any missteps came through the intent of doing my job and pursuing relationship-building and storytelling.

"I will continue the same reporting and writing with fairness, accuracy and depth, and we reached an agreement to lift the restriction on access."

Riley released a statement saying he had a "very candid and productive conversation" with Evans.

"We agreed that we both could have handled the situation differently," Riley said in the statement printed by the Orange County Register, an SCNG paper. "I appreciate Luca recognizing the policies we have in place to protect our student-athletes and acknowledging to adhere to those in the future. We welcome Luca back to practice and look forward to his continuing coverage of the Trojans."

Evans' access to the football program was suspended following a story published last week. According to the Register, the story included parts of a conversation two players had while preparing to talk with the media. USC officials contended that violated a policy that bars reporting on anything outside of media availabilities in the practice facility, the paper reported.

According to the Register, a USC official also raised concerns about Evans earlier in the season, noting that he asked a question after an official news conference had already ended, and spoke to players and coaches outside of designated media availabilities.

SCNG officials sent letters to Riley and other USC leaders in an effort to get the suspension lifted, calling it an overreaction.

According to the Register, when asked about Evans' suspension earlier this week, Riley responded, "I don't feel like we have too many rules, too many policies, but the ones we do have we take them serious because my first job is not to, even though it is part of my job, it's not for the media, it's not for the fans, it's not anyone else, it's protecting the players. That is first and foremost."

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