I’ve asked Poynter’s Tampa Bay Times if there was any discussion about this being a conflict of interest – a newspaper sponsoring an often controversial institution that it covers.
Update – Editor Neil Brown says in a statement:
This is no different than our longtime sponsorships with institutions like the Tampa Bay Rays or the Tampa Bay Lightning. The newsroom is not involved in any of the marketing or sales dynamics and all the parties understand that news coverage and editorial independence are preserved outside the parameters of the deal. We will continue to offer readers thorough, aggressive and independent coverage of USF and all other institutions. That is unchanged by this sponsorship arrangement.