ESPN sues Ohio State

Submitted by BiSB on July 11th, 2011 at 5:54 PM

Yep.  You read that right.  ESPN is suing Ohio State over an alleged Open Meetings Act/Public records-ish type violation:

The sports entertainment giant filed a lawsuit Monday with the Ohio Supreme Court claiming the university violated Ohio’s public records laws by failing to make available three different sets of public records sought by ESPN earlier this year. The lawsuit is essentially asking the state’s highest court to force OSU into releasing the records to ESPN. 

One set of records involves e-mails, letters and memos from Tressel, OSU President Gordon Gee, OSU director of sports compliance officer Doug Archie and Athletics Director Gene Smith related to Pennsylvania businessman Ted Sarniak that ESPN requested on April 20.




July 11th, 2011 at 5:57 PM ^'s even more interesting.  It basically sets up a battle over FERPA.  Definitely popcorn.

Also, funniest line EVER:

Jim Lynch, OSU director of media relations, said the university can’t release the Sarniak related correspondence because it would be too obvious that any student-athlete in the documentation would be Pryor.

Translation: "we can't release this e-mail because you might be able to tell who it involves. Pryor. It's Pryor."


July 11th, 2011 at 6:22 PM ^

for example, if they find an e-mail from someone other than Tressel to Sarniak, and that e-mail shows that the knowledge of tatgate expanded beyond Tressel to the Athletic Department or the compliance people (or hell, even from the Office of the President), then OSU's NCAA response becomes hilariously misleading.  And in that case...


July 11th, 2011 at 10:11 PM ^

An email from Archie, CCed to Gee and a few key others, to Sarniak thanking him for the information and telling him they'd be sure to act on it. OSU fans far enough not to die from the immediate coronary of destruction would feel a lot like this:


July 11th, 2011 at 7:15 PM ^

recruit rankings isn't helping their case, neither is them being the only entity that profits from Bowl Games. It's exactly like Congress prosecuting baseball players. We know they cheated but people seem to hate Congress even more than cheating baseball players.


July 11th, 2011 at 10:54 PM ^

Part of the reason people have been hating on ESPN is because of the perception that they suck way too much on the teats of the celebrity teams (Yankees, Lakers, etc.) and don't do enough of this bulldog stuff.  Now that Yahoo is kicking their asses to China and back in the investigative journalism department, they're getting nosy.  Insofar as it helps bring Ohio State to the justice they deserve and not this BS they're trying to get away with, it can only be a good thing.


July 11th, 2011 at 6:07 PM ^

OSU arrogance at work again. My guess is that ESPN is gonna win this one. I doubt they would have filed suit just to get dismissed at an early hearing. Also, it would not surprise me if ESPN already has some idea what is in the emails and other documents they are trying to get OSU to turn over. The emails were delivered to the NCAA in unredacted form back in March.


July 11th, 2011 at 6:31 PM ^

If the emails were given to the NCAA (unredacted) in march, then I would assume nothing in there should be too damaging (given OSU's self-imposed light wrist slap). I'm hoping that these are new materials as I'd love some fireworks.


July 12th, 2011 at 8:41 AM ^

The Ohio Supreme Court has made a number of questionable decisions in recent years and they can get away with it because the court basically has a unanimity of opinion thanks to the [redacted political party].  I don't have faith in their better judgment.  This situation is still damn funny though.

Wolverine 73

July 12th, 2011 at 10:00 AM ^

The Ohio Supreme Court hasn't been too bad on public records issues.  The FERPA problem grows out of a federal Sixth Circuit decision (the appellate court that covers OH and MI, among others) that gives FERPA a broad reading (and that essentially undercuts a prior, favorable Ohio S Ct. decision giving access to documents sought from Miami (O) Univ.)  The Sixth Circuit decision is questionable, and also is sloppy.  tosu is reading it broadly to cover their situation.  FERPA itself is one of the most poorly drafted statutes I have ever read. 


July 12th, 2011 at 12:41 AM ^

Reading these affadavits cracks my shit up.  I was supposed to work in tsio's archive to finish my Master's and I've been in their archive.  I don't believe for a second that their archive only goes back three years.  Their stacks are 2 stories high and are basically housed in a warehouse.

I call bullshit.


July 11th, 2011 at 8:28 PM ^

If by country you mean world, and by world you mean known universe.***

***given we don't know of any life out there. I would also guess that if we find another galaxy with sports, ESPN will somehow buy the rights, then mess it up badly by using Pam Ward, thus leading to an intergalactic war.


July 11th, 2011 at 6:14 PM ^

This is bad for TSIO. I base this mainly on the fact it probably can't be good for TSIO (depositions are always bad for people trying to hide things), and since SI's story was so thoroughly covered by their legal department because they didn't want to create legal issues for themselves. Now media outlets are bringing legal action against TSIO. This could get dicey.


July 11th, 2011 at 6:19 PM ^

"In the lawsuit, ESPN says that OSU is “aggressive and misguided” and “equal parts cynical and hypocritical” for claiming they are prohibited by FERPA from releasing the communications that concern Sarniak."


Couldn't agree more.


July 11th, 2011 at 6:22 PM ^

When the NCAA wins its relief (which it will), the Buckeyes better pray that nothing new comes out from the e-mail correspondence -- especially nothing that indicts anyone other than Tressel, since they've worked to shoulder him with all the blame.  If it comes to light that they knew even more and intentionally and inappropriately hid behind laws to try to keep it under wraps, you can bet the NCAA will get vindictive.


July 11th, 2011 at 6:29 PM ^

The timing of all this could be brilliant.  Wait until OSU further indicts themselves with that sham of a response to the NCAA and then bring the lawsuit and find the smoking gun - love it!  Wonder if ESPN did that intentionally.  If so, well played ESPN.