ESPN v. Ohio State Update: Ohio State Submits Documents to the Court

ESPN v. Ohio State Update: Ohio State Submits Documents to the Court

Submitted by BlueNote on October 11th, 2011 at 10:57 PM


As many of you know, ESPN is suing OSU in the Ohio Supreme Court.  ESPN claims that OSU rejected perfectly fine FOIA requests from ESPN asking for emails and other stuff related to some of the recent scandals.  The media company survived the first couple legal obstacles erected by OSU and now they are starting to get into the substance of the case.

Today Ohio State filed several documents with the Ohio Supreme Court that anyone can view online.  The first portion can be found here:

This first portion consists of affidavits from OSU staff, some letters, and other random stuff.  One interesting tidbit came in an October 4 letter to ESPN’s lawyers:

“In particular, is ESPN seeking records regarding the specific NCAA investigation that led to Coach Tressel leaving the University? Or is ESPN seeking records related to any NCAA investigation involving Jim Tressel since January 1, 2010 (i.e. investigations of all matters, which involved the NCAA and, for which Jim Tressel had some involvement)? That distinction is important because the January 1, 2010, date significantly precedes the investigation that has been ESPN's primary focus. Further, as you can see from the records produced in response to ESPN's past violations request, several investigations since then did examine Coach Tressel's actions in the course of investigating matters completely unrelated to the investigation leading to Tressel's separation from OSU.”

Another interesting revelation came in Exhibit A to Sandra Anderson’s affidavit (about 3/4 of the way through the document).  The exhibit shows that OSU has held back 51 documents containing the word, “Sarniak.”  Considering that many of those are probably different emails within the same email thread, my guess is that this amounts to approximately 10 or 15 email threads.  That’s a complete shot in the dark based simply on being involved in various court cases involving emails.

Finally, it appears from the affidavits in this first portion that OSU is putting all of its eggs in the FERPA (federal student privacy law) basket.  OSU thinks it will be allowed to ignore these FOIA requests from ESPN based on the federal student privacy law.  That battle will be played out over the coming weeks before the court.

The second portion of documents submitted by OSU are comprised of all the emails and attachments they have already produced to ESPN.  There are lots of pages – I’m guessing hundreds.  I couldn’t read through it all but if you are suddenly fueled by an urge to read volumes of emails that ESPN found uninteresting, then go for it:     

Within the next 24 hours, we might also see some documents from ESPN.

What happens then?

Oct 21: ESPN files a brief with its legal arguments.

Nov. 10: OSU files a brief trying to debunk ESPN’s legal arguments.

Nov. 17: ESPN files a smaller brief trying to debunk the debunking of its arguments.

Somewhere in the distant future:  the Ohio Supreme Court makes a decision.