"We were transparent from the start. We said up front this is a partnership" with the coaches, said Shaver, the longtime KARE11 news and sports anchor, who said he never pressured schools to take part, and that the state high school football coaches association approached him to participate. "I would want you to participate because you care about what we're doing."
Jane Helmke, KARE11's news director, agreed that the "Tackle Cancer" fundraising events for Shaver's foundation did not present a problem. "There was never a point where we didn't cover a game, as an example, because someone was or was not a part of 'Tackle Cancer,'" said Helmke, who said the TV station supports many other charitable efforts.
But Jane Kirtley, a professor of media ethics and law at the University of Minnesota, said the arrangement crossed ethical lines. "I think it's ethically questionable," she said. "He's using what is essentially a news program to promote a foundation -- a charitable foundation -- in which he has a stake."
She said Shaver, like others who promote seemingly admirable causes, are often driven by the belief that "you're on the side of the angels here, and how can anybody doubt your pureness of heart?"
In an industry where local media personalities have occasionally straddled the line between covering sports teams and rubbing elbows with them, Shaver has raised $4 million for his foundation by partnering with teams and coaches.
While the "Tackle Cancer Nights" were the latest fundraising tactic -- Shaver said the state's high school coaches want to continue the events next year -- his foundation has for years held an annual golf tournament and has received donations from the Minnesota Wild, Vikings and Timberwolves, among others.
Both the teams and Shaver, who has covered the teams, said they saw no conflict.
Mike Kaszuba • 651-222-1673