Monday, April 11, 2016

Sports -- Now a Georgia State Secret (for 90 days)

Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal signed into law today a bill that makes college sports a state secret not for the normal three days for a public record, but 90 days.

Why? Who the hell knows.

As the AJC reports:
The legislation, Senate Bill 323, allows the athletic departments at UGA, Georgia Tech and other state colleges to wait 90 days before responding to Open Records Act requests. Athletic associations, like all state agencies, previously had three days to acknowledge the requests.
Yeah, it's a stupid law, but I decided to dig in my data to see the complaint about so many open records requests was a valid one. Keep in mind that 90 days doesn't mean you'll have fewer records requests, it just means you'll have more time to keep the public from knowing the public's business.

I have a dataset of UGA open records requests from the 2014-2015 academic year. There is no date on them, so I can't be sure if it's all the requests. Still, let's look at the 102 requests made of UGA during this time period. According to my count:

  • 66 of 102, or 64.7 percent, were about sports. Nearly two-thirds of the total.
  • 14 of them, or 13.7 percent, were about administration.
  • 10 of them, or 9.8 percent, were about research.
  • The rest are a scattering of stuff (business, law, and undetermined)
So what can we tell from this? Sports reporters may have created their own mess by, perhaps, overindulging in open records requests. Or maybe news reporters are not doing enough. Below are two examples of the sports requests. Apologies for the ugly cut-and-paste job. I'm rushed.

(1) All records mentioning or referring to Ketorolac or Toradol within the Athletic Department since January 1, 2005 (2) All emails to/from Ron Courson, Steve Bryant, Sean Boland, Mark Christensen, Fred Reifsteck, and Ron Elliott mentioning or referring to Ketorolac or Toradol since January 1, 2005.

(1) Any new football or men's basketball schedule contracts or agreements reached or past contracts changed in recent weeks. Please include any games scheduled for men's basketball in 2015-16 and beyond                    
(2) Any changes to the total compensation and/or contracts to head men's basketball coach Mark Fox or any football coaches in recent weeks. Please include any changes to contracts or new MOU                                      
(3) Any NCAA violations involving Georgia reported since Dec. 15. Please include any communications between Georgia and NCAA's enforcement division             
(4) The name and position of any new employee hired or employee who has left Georgia or moved into a new position since Dec. 15

You get the idea above. A lot of requests for contracts, of course, both for coaches and specific games (as in how much UGA is paying for some scrappy little team to visit the stadium and get slaughtered).

Do I really blame sports journalists for doing their jobs? Of course not, though if you read through some of the requests they're kinda broad. Still, a public university's sports program is a public business, and the public deserves to know, in a timely manner, what it's up to. Ninety days is not timely. Not even close.

1 comment:

Mark E. Johnson said...

So, UGA needed this because they average two requests a week during the academic year? (And that's assuming this truly is just from the 32 weeks a year classes are in session, not the full 52 weeks in a year.)