A man who independently covered high school girls athletics and who grew an influential social media presence has been banned from Salem-Keizer Public Schools because of his alleged harmful behavior, the district confirmed in an email to the Statesman Journal.
The district did not provide any specific details as to what prompted the decision.
“The district recognizes that maintaining an academic environment free from harmful, unlawful, harassing and/or disruptive behavior is essential to the safe operation of our schools. From time-to-time individual’s actions may create a challenge to this safe environment,” the district wrote in an email. “In those instances, the district may issue a trespass notice which would serve to ban or exclude the individual from district property.”
Prior to shutting it down earlier this month, Eric Watkins ran the Instagram account @eliteoregongirls, where he reported on high school girls’ sports across the state. Watkins’ Instagram, Facebook and Twitter accounts under the same moniker have a combined following of more than 14,000.
On Monday, Grant Magazine, a student publication at Grant High School in Portland, published an article alleging Watkins engaged in “inappropriate conduct” with high school-aged female athletes. The publication reported it had obtained text messages between Watkins and several student athletes that appear to be overly personal, with Watkins asking the athletes about their personal lives or complimenting them on their appearance.
On Sunday, the Oregon School Activities Association revoked Watkins’ media credentials at an executive work session.
“The decision to issue or revoke a media pass is at the sole and absolute discretion of the OSAA,” according to the OSAA Handbook.
Watkins put an end to Elite Oregon Girls in a now private post titled “It Is Time For So Long…” on Dec. 5. In the story he states feeling “undervalued” as the reason for his departure.
Watkins did not immediately respond to an email request from the Statesman Journal for comment.