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Friday, October 4, 2019

KU denies open records request seeking more information about NCAA allegations

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While the University of Kansas has publicly released the list of recruiting allegations the NCAA has made against the school’s basketball program, it is declining to release other basic information about the case.

The University of Kansas on Thursday denied a Journal-World records request for a cover letter and other correspondence the NCAA sent to the university along with its recent Notice of Allegations.

The reason that the cover letter and other materials can’t be seen by the public? The university is seemingly arguing the NCAA is a “private individual,” and thus under Kansas Open Records law KU doesn’t have to release such correspondence from individuals.

But Max Kautsch, a Lawrence-based attorney who specializes in open-government issues, said the provision the university cited in its denial is misapplied. He said the provision was created to protect correspondence between private residents and lawmakers, which does not apply to the NCAA or KU.

“The legislative history suggests that the exception relied upon by the university to deny the paper’s request was designed to protect constituent correspondence with lawmakers,” he said. “As that is not the circumstance here, the university should reconsider its decision to deny the paper’s request on this basis.”

On Sept. 23, the university confirmed it had received a Notice of Allegations — the NCAA’s equivalent of an indictment — which charges the KU athletics program with lack of institutional control, three Level 1 violations in the men’s basketball program and coach Bill Self with a “responsibility charge.” Level 1 violations are deemed the most serious and can include penalties such as scholarship reductions and postseason bans.

Additionally, the KU football program is charged with Level 2 violations, which include allowing an extra coach to work during practice under former coach David Beaty.

After receiving the allegations from the NCAA, the university published the document with some information redacted.

Following the release of the allegations, the Journal-World used the open records law to request the cover letter that presumably was included as part of the Notice of Allegations the university received. The Journal-World sought the letter, along with any other documents sent with the NOA, to determine if there was additional information about the NCAA’s investigation, the appeal process or other matters that the public had a right to know about the high-profile case. The newspaper also requested a time-stamped copy of the letter to more precisely determine when the university received the information from the NCAA.

In its denial of the request, the university cited a provision in the open records act that allows public agencies to deny records requests for correspondence with private individuals.

The provision states: “Correspondence between a public agency and a private individual, other than correspondence which is intended to give notice of an action, policy or determination relating to any regulatory, supervisory or enforcement responsibility of the public agency or which is widely distributed to the public by a public agency and is not specifically in response to communications from such a private individual.”

Kautsch said the application of the provision does not apply because no constituency is being protected in the denial. He said other provisions in the state’s open records act perhaps could have been used to deny the Journal-World’s request.

In its written response to the Journal-World, KU gave no indication about the content of the letter or other materials that caused the university to determine it should not publicly release the information. The provision of the Kansas Open Records Act cited by the university is discretionary, meaning even if the university determined the information was from a private individual, the school could still decide to release the information.

The university did not respond to the Journal-World’s request for further clarification of its denial.

Comments

Dale Rogers 1 month, 2 weeks ago

Given the media's tendency to sensationalize with inflaming headlines (generalizing and not pointing figures at kusports) why on earth would they want to put out any information in advance that could be picked apart and published out of context? That would be just plain stupidity if they hope to defend themselves. Unless, of course, there is a true legal reason to release the info and no legal loophole to avoid it. Also, how many of those recruiting against KU would love to be able to cherry pick out of context for use against KU in recruiting?

Michael Sillman 1 month, 2 weeks ago

I’m not real impressed with the legal expertise being relied on by the KU Athletic Department. I assume the same expert gave the okay to admit that the Adidas rep was a booster back during the de Silva appeal.

Brett McCabe 1 month, 2 weeks ago

The KUAD needs to come clean and do it quickly. Dollar Bill needs to get out of town and we need a complete reboot.

Medieval minds like Dipsh*t Dale need to realize that the truth isn’t the enemy. Cheers to real journalists, doing their investigative duties, and not writing columns about.....well the other guys did this...

The university and the athletic department would be far better off if they simply came clean. No one is going to the guillotine. Clean this crap up and clean it up quick. And fire anyone involved. Grow a pair. KU is only as small or as big as it makes itself. Self-righteous indignation isn’t a great mindset, unless you have a really small mind.

This is an opportunity to be big. Under Major Milktoast, it’s a guarantee that we’ll be as small and weak as any victim in the history of collegiate athletics.

Micky Baker 1 month, 2 weeks ago

Brett, chill out. Others don't agree with you and they aren't calling you names, but maybe they should.

Creg Bohrer 1 month, 2 weeks ago

The NCAA needs charge themselves with lack of institutional control

Mark Wooden 1 month, 2 weeks ago

Its a tough world when someone won't do your job for you. Good Luck!

Dane Pratt 1 month, 2 weeks ago

What do they expect to find in the cover letter and why doesn't LJW make the same request to the NCAA.

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