Former Star sports reporter denies he's headed to ESPN to cover Pacers

July 25, 2013
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It’s not exactly a mass exodus, but the Indianapolis Star sports department has lost its second seasoned reporter in less than a month.

The departure of former Indiana University beat writer Terry Hutchens earlier this month and Indiana Pacers beat writer Mike Wells last week comes on the heels of a major reorganization of the state’s largest daily newspaper’s sports department.

In late June, Star Editor Jeff Taylor sent out a staff memo announcing several major personnel changes in the sports department. The re-organization included moving Hutchens out of the position covering IU he had held for 15 years to handle “new efforts on recruiting, focusing primarily on college basketball,” according to Taylor’s memo.

Though Hutchens didn’t elaborate, he made it clear in postings on his Facebook page he was not pleased by the move. He subsequently left the Star to cover IU for Fox News/Scout.com.

When reached by the IBJ on Tuesday, Wells confirmed that he has left the Star but declined to say where he is headed.

“I’m just going to lay low for a week or so,” Wells said.

In the Star re-organization, Wells was moved from covering the Pacers to being the lead Indianapolis Colts beat writer. Covering the high-profile NFL and Colts could be considered a move up, but some in the industry speculated Wells was upset at not getting to cover the NBA.

Before joining the Star to cover the Pacers in 2005, Wells covered the Minnesota Timberwolves for the St. Paul Pioneer Press. He credited his lengthy list of NBA contacts for helping him get the Star job.

Wells said his move had nothing to do with being unhappy at the Star, but rather said he’s moving to take advantage of another professional opportunity.

“I have no hard feelings and nothing bad to say about the Star,” Wells said. “They’ve been very good to me in my 8-1/2 years at the Star.”

There had been speculation in local sports circles that Wells had taken a job with ESPN.com covering an NBA beat. Wells denied that.

“I can tell you that is completely inaccurate,” he said.
 
With training camp starting Saturday, it’s not yet clear who the Star’s No. 1 Colts beat writer will be this season. The logical choice seems to be Mike Chappell, who has covered the team for the Star since 1989, but was bumped to the No. 2 Colts beat slot in lieu of Wells last month.

Phil B. Wilson, who has covered the Colts heavily for the paper the last few years, has been re-assigned as a video journalist, focusing on becoming the online host of the Star’s sports coverage. Veteran sports reporter Phil Richards, who also has covered the Colts for the Star in recent years, has shifted into a role focused on Sunday projects.

NOTE: Headline has been updated.

 

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  • What a mess!
    I think the Star really screwed things up! Best of luck to the departing reporters...
  • Upsetting the Balance
    For a newspaper that is trying to expand it's reader base, they sure have managed to upset some of the loyal readers they have. Newspapers today are becoming increasingly irrelevant to the younger generation and alienating those of who read it on a daily basis is just plain asinine. My nickels worth.
  • star
    Watching the Star sports section fall apart for no apparent reason is pretty sad. So who is covering IU now? and the Pacers? Does this mean Bob Kravitz will have to stop acting like a poor man's Tony Kornheiser and do actual sports reporting?
  • IU and Pacers coverage
    Current Star reporter Michael Pointer is now covering the Pacers, but it's not clear if that's on an interim basis. They have not yet hired a reporter to cover IU. They want that reporter stationed in Bloomington and some industry sources have said they are scouring the Herald-Times' sports department for candidates. Personally, I think Amelia Rayno, who covers college basketball and the Minnesota Golden Gophers for the Minneapolis Star Tribune, would be a fantastic candidate to replace Hutch.
  • If it ain't broke...
    Covering sports is one of the few things The Star did really well. Why on earth would you shake things up simply to make a change? There is more to this story than meets the eye.
  • A call from Charlotte
    I just got an anonymous call from someone at the News and Observer in Charlotte, NC telling me that Mike Wells is in fact going to work for ESPN, he just won't be covering the NBA. And yes, I do have caller ID. Gee whiz, what's with all the cloak and dagger secrecy?
  • Star not bright
    Mike Wells was one of the most articulate spokespersons from the Indy Star sports department. Along with his published insights about the Pacers and other NBA teams, he was great on TV and radio. Sorry to see him leave but glad he's going to a better place that values its people more. As for the IU beat job, why would you (Anthony) suggest a person from out of state (Minnesota?) to take over the IU beat job? But then, obviously the Star hasn't been successful in recruiting someone from Bloomington's paper. As posted earlier, it appears the Star management team continues to alienate we dwindling subscribers with their slipshod changes in the sports department.
  • Indy Sports
    As the Star continues it's woeful slide...more outside reporters will likely be brought in for a couple of years until they too move on. The Star has become a mini-USA Today.
  • Hate to see them go
    I liked Wells and Hutch both...sad to see them go, especially Wells, who had some great insight, and who obvisously did have some great contacts in the NBA...the whole move seems silly to me. Rob is correct...young people don't even read the newspaper let alone subscribe, they rely on totally different media sources...to continually tick off the people who actually do read and subscribe to the paper is just plain dumb...Jeff Taylor just looks silly now, scrambling around to find new writers, and likely having to promote people he marginalized or demoted...mismanagement is a a high art form these days at the Star...happy landings Mike and Terry...good article Anthony.
  • What Jim Said
    I agree with Jim..... Jeff Taylor has proved to be inept as Sports editor, he is the one who should be looking for a different job.

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