Nell Redmond
Isiah Thomas reacts to his team's play during a recent loss to the Charlotte Bobcats.

NEW YORK — Tabloid pugnacity ran headlong into journalistic impartiality in New York last week. Impartiality never stood a chance.

All right, the issue at hand wasn't the Iraq war or universal health care. Still, it was at least mildly jarring to see The Daily News turn a full page of its news section into a sign calling on the hapless New York Knicks to boot their president and coach, Isiah Thomas.

Chants of "Fire Isiah" have been a staple at Madison Square Garden for weeks, but the message got a lot more attention last Monday, when a fan raised a hand-lettered sign with that two-word message, not far behind the Knicks' bench, where it could hardly be missed. He was escorted from the Garden.

On Wednesday, The Daily News published an article that it said was "for all the Knicks fans who feel the same way" as the ejected fan, telling them, "consider the sign on the opposite page our holiday gift."

In big block letters, the following page said, "Fire Isiah." In much smaller type, it added, "To be held up during next Knicks blowout."

The next game was not an embarrassing defeat — the Knicks actually won — but the signs were common in the stands.

Most of American journalism pays at least lip service to the idea that news reporting should not take sides in the matter being covered, even when it comes to the performance of the home team. But New York City's tabloids, The Daily News and the even more opinionated New York Post, do not always feel bound by that rule.

That may be partly a result of both papers' having had a number of editors from Britain and other parts of the world where newspapers have fewer pretensions to being impartial.

The "Fire Isiah" spread "was what I would describe as good, roustabout tabloidism," said Martin Dunn, editor in chief and deputy publisher of The Daily News, who is British.


UVSC HIRES COACH: Eric Madsen has been named the next head baseball coach at Utah Valley and will become just the fourth head coach in the program's 36-year history. He will take over the Wolverine baseball program when head coach Steve Gardner's retirement becomes effective at the end of the 2008 season.

Madsen, who has been an assistant coach for the Wolverines since the 2004 season, will have his new title go into effect on July 1, 2008, the same day that the school officially becomes Utah Valley University.

"I'm thrilled that coach Madsen is going to be the one directing this program in the future. He rose to the top among a great pool of candidates," said Utah Valley director of athletics Mike Jacobsen. "I'm confident he'll do a great job and excited to move forward with his leadership."


OKLAHOMA PLAYER OUT: The father of Oklahoma junior defensive back Lendy Holmes of South Oak Cliff, Texas, said Saturday that his son is academically ineligible and won't play in the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl on Jan. 2 against West Virginia.

Lendy Holmes Sr. said his son's eligibility came down to one class, and he "was missing one grade point." Holmes' father said the matter isn't totally resolved yet, and there was still an outside chance his son could "make it right" and gain his eligibility.

Holmes Sr. said he was unsure what his son needed to do to obtain a passing grade and figured it would be tough at this point with the semester over and the school closed for the Christmas holidays. He added that he was cancelling his reservations in Arizona for the Fiesta Bowl.

"He needed six grade points to be eligible and he had five. This can be a life lesson for everybody else. This is what happens if you don't take care of your business," Holmes Sr. said. "He's really tore up about it and hurt."