The Michigan Court of Appeals has upheld a lower court's ruling that compels the Michigan State University Police Department to release public records involving MSU athletes to ESPN.
ESPN filed a public records request in September 2014 seeking incident reports involving Spartan football and men's basketball players from 2009-2014. The university released certain records but removed the names and identifying information about suspects, victims and witnesses, citing privacy laws.
ESPN and investigative reporter Paula Lavigne sued in February, seeking the release of all information requested. A trial court ruled in ESPN's favor -- compelling the release of suspects' names -- but exempted identifying information from witnesses and victims, even if they were athletes. But MSU appealed the decision, saying the lower court did not properly apply the privacy exemption as required by state law.
On Monday, the appellate court agreed with the lower court's initial ruling, noting: "The disclosure of the names of the student-athletes who were identified as suspects in the reports serves the public understanding of the operation of the university's police department. ESPN seeks the information to learn whether policing standards are consistent and uniform at a public institution of higher learning. The disclosure of the names is necessary to this purpose."
Story on same subject from the Lansing State Journal: