In their history, universities have sometimes down some dodgy things they should not have done - usually accepting money derived from slavery or some such thing.
But only within the past few decades has it been possible to make a statement like this. In wishing the university to assert some control over what types of political figures some of their academics talk about a Liberal politician is quotes saying: "This is not a question about academic freedom," "It is about brand protection."
Universities always had a reputation to protect and this could and would impact what money they got. In the this commercial environment, that seems more precarious - and seems (and is often talked about) as a brand. The very concept threatens academic freedom, so of COURSE it it *not* about that...