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?