Columbus Dispatch: College athletic departments use vague law to keep public records from being seen
The Columbus Dispatch reports that some college athletics departments are “censor[ing] information in the name of student privacy, invoking a 35-year-old federal law whose author says it has been twisted and misused by the universities.”
A six-month Dispatch investigation found that [the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act] FERPA, as it’s commonly called, is a law with many conflicting interpretations. And that makes it virtually impossible to decipher what is going on inside a $5 billion college-sports world that is funded by fans, donors, alumni, television networks and, at most schools, taxpayers. […]
The Dispatch learned of the wildly different legal interpretations by sending public-records requests for athletics-related documents to all 119 colleges in the Football Bowl Subdivision (formerly Division I-A). The goal was to gauge their openness and use of the FERPA law.
The requests sought airplane flight manifests for football-team travel to road games; lists of people designated to receive athletes’ complimentary admission to football games; football players’ summer-employment documents; and reports of NCAA violations. […]
No one disputes that grades are and should be private.
But today, privacy is extended to athletes who have gambled, accepted payoffs, cheated, cashed in on their notoriety, and even sexually abused others.
It is extended to coaches who have broken recruiting rules or committed academic fraud at a time when the average salary for a head football coach is more than $1 million a year.
It is extended to rogue boosters.
It even has been extended to an ESPN broadcaster named in school records.
The entire article is worth a read.