This NCAA Document Will Self-Destruct In Ten Seconds

The Columbus Dispatch has done some yeoman's work in recent months examining the increasing veil of secrecy placed over the activities of ostensibly public -- and therefore FOIA-vulnerable -- athletic departments. ADs now use FERPA, a law narrowly tailored to prevent the release of student grades and transcripts, to shoot down or bowdlerize public information requests of all varieties.
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↵That's bad enough, but now, thanks to Florida State's futile appeal against the NCAA's decision to vacate a couple dozen of Bobby Bowden's wins in the wake of their mondo academic scandal, there's evidence that the NCAA has taken the secrecy gig a step farther yet: ↵

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↵⇥[T]he NCAA also has turned to using a secure Web site to share information with universities about rules violations. To view the information, the NCAA requires schools to sign confidentiality agreements.
↵⇥
↵⇥The contents of that Web site, the NCAA says, are exempt from any state's public-records laws because the documents belong to the organization based in Indianapolis and not to the public universities that are subject to public disclosure. ↵
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↵That's a neat trick, isn't it? ↵

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↵The article goes on to do the usual article thing, where advocates for both sides are quoted without any direct evaluation of their claims -- I guess that's left to blogs. So let's evaluate the one plausible reason offered for doing this other than "because we can": ↵

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↵⇥"The development of a case depends almost completely on the containment of the information," said Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe, a former NCAA investigator. "Once you start having that information leak out, all of a sudden people could know what kind of stories to tell to avoid being found out. And as soon as you give information out, you dry up your sources." ↵
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↵Except the big reveal here comes well after the conclusion of the Florida State investigation, which has been 100% put to bed save for FSU's meritless, rejected appeal. "Containment" is no longer a valid reason to refuse to release the information. Nor did the NCAA choose to release the document with any information that might point the finger at a whistleblower excised -- another reason offered -- they just said "no." ↵

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↵Myles Brand's already gotten dragged in front of Congress and asked to justify the NCAA's increasingly tenuous claim to tax-exempt status; maybe it's time to have that dog-and-pony show one more time. ↵

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This post originally appeared on the Sporting Blog. For more, see The Sporting Blog Archives.

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