Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The Effect of the FOIA on College Athletics

During the NCAA tournament last month, Yahoo Sports exposed alleged recruiting violations at the University of Connecticut. The
Yahoo investigation relied heavily on phone records obtained through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request. UConn, being a public university, is required by the FOIA to make records available to any person based simply on a request which reasonably describes the record.

The FOIA benefits our democracy by providing essential transparency in our administrative state. And, clearly, the FOIA is not to blame for the alleged recruiting violations at UConn. If the basketball team committed the acts alleged in the report, then they deserve any sanction handed down.

But, what effect will the FOIA have on the future of college athletics? Adrian Wojnarowski and Dan Wetzel, the Yahoo Sports writers, made it rather clear that they plan on exposing the “agent-as-recruiter” problem in college basketball. If this “agent-as-recruiter” problem is as pervasive as Yahoo claims, it may end up being the second-coming of Major League Baseball’s steroid scandal.

Needless to say, private universities (e.g., Duke, Syracuse, et al.) are not susceptible to FOIA requests. Consequently, I can’t help but wonder whether the FOIA will ultimately provide private universities with a recruiting edge. If these recruiting violations are as widespread as suggested, should private universities really be insulated from investigations? As one site commented: “Easy, low hanging fruit at these public universities.” This may be true.

What do you think? Are public universities disproportionately burdened by the FOIA? If so, does it warrant a response by the NCAA?

25 comments:

  1. I thought that private universities were subject to the FOIA by virtue of participation in the NCAA...

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  2. As I understand it, it does not. I'm curious to know, too.

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  3. @2:13;

    I believe the NCAA is a private organization. Is there any special reason why participation in the NCAA would subject a private university to FOIA? I've done some rudimentary research, and haven't found anything to support this claim. But, if you have any more information, please do share.

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  4. Not covered. Something needs to be done because this is a problem/makes things unfair. NCAA could just require disclosures of some kind.

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  5. Good point, Joshua.

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  6. I don't know what 2:13 is speaking of...the NCAA is not required to comply with FOIA. he/she may be confusing the disclosure requirements that the NCAA independently requires with FOIA.

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  7. 5.09 is right. IIRC the NCAA disclosure is not nearly as great is FOIAs so there's some real equity concerns here. Would the NCAA be able to require the functional equiv of what FOIA requires from the pub. schools

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  8. This FOIA stuff is going to kill public universities with low budgets (see VaTech, LSU, etc).

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  9. Why shouldn't the private schools benefit? They get no state funding, and have a disadvantage to begin w/

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  10. 5:12, can't the NCAA require whatever it wants as a condition of membership?

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  11. I don't think it can just require quite as much per some state laws but even if it could, would it?

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  12. 5:18 -> yeah Duke and its 4 billion endowment are really hurting

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  13. 5.23, it doesn't matter. Still not getting state funding and the states are. So the states are subject to state actor laws. That simple.

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  14. 5:33

    Are you so sure that private schools DON'T receive significant public dollars?

    http://books.google.com/books?id=jb3XbQnM04sC&pg=PA45&lpg=PA45&dq=private+universities+receiving+public+dollars+athletics&source=bl&ots=s2JhWq6iey&sig=LKo4QdtjXdes-aizfZKJGssWUOE&hl=en&ei=ENzvSYrXD9GD-Ab4jsHCDw&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=5

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  15. I don't understand how FOIA even applies to a state school. It's a federal law that applies to federal agencies. States have their own open government laws...

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  16. Totally agreed with the upper comments...

    Thanks fo sharing.

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  17. I appreciate the work of all people who share information with others.

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  18. I have done some rudimentary research and found nothing to support this claim ... I think the NCAA is a private

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