August 16, 2014

Ohio State Wins ESPN’s Lawsuit Over Public Records

If you recall a while back, we talked a little bit about the ESPN lawsuit they brought against the Ohio State administration. The basis of the case is that when the Jim Tressel scandal broke, ESPN’s Tom Farrey made repeated requests for information from the University, citing Ohio’s Open Records Laws.

While OSU did turn over much of what Farrey and ESPN requested, some items were withheld by the University with the school arguing that turning over the records would violate FERPA’s student privacy protection guidelines. ESPN wasn’t satisfied with that answer, and took it to the courts to try to get the documents handed over to them.

It was an interesting case with some fairly serious ramifications no matter which way the courts decided. After several months of arguments, the court has reached it’s decision:

The court on Tuesday unanimously ruled that for the most part Ohio State properly shielded records as either protected by federal privacy laws or attorney-client privilege.

The court said in a few cases Ohio State must remove certain names from documents which it then must provide ESPN.

The court also denied ESPN’s request for attorney fees.

This is a big decision, not just for Ohio State, but for all public Universities with high profile athletic departments. While many media outlets were aligning with ESPN in the case, several educational institutions were siding with Ohio State. By upholding Ohio State’s right to protect the privacy of its students, a precedent has been set for similar future cases with other schools.

[Related: ESPN v Ohio State: The Lawsuit and What It Means]

  • Garry_Owen

    Not sure if this is a last minute field goal to win the game in overtime, or if it’s just a last minute field goal to put some points on the board to prevent being shut out. It sort of feels like both. Either way, I’m glad to see OSU win something against ESPN (though I can’t imagine that the network’s coverage/slant of OSU sports is going to get any better now).

  • Natedawg86

    I wasn’t aware that ESPN used real facts and documents in their “stories”

  • cmm13

    Yeah…they’ve got a newsdesk and everything…it’s really great.

  • mgbode

    we must protect the children!!!

  • Richard Warner

    Thanks Andrew
    for sharing this valuable post regarding Ohio State’s lawsuit.

    Congratulations to all states for this case.
    The repeated request for Ohio
    public records by ESPN’s Tom created issue in records access.
    For more detail regarding Ohio public records:
    http://www.recordsbase.com/resources/public-records/ohio