OT: Michigan Court of Appeals sides with ESPN in lawsuit v. Michigan State re: athlete arrests/incidents

Submitted by Dawkins on August 20th, 2015 at 4:12 PM

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:





August 20th, 2015 at 4:14 PM ^

It should be noted that they are looking into whether or not athletes are receiving special treatment, or different treatment than other students.


August 20th, 2015 at 6:52 PM ^

We all know that if Appling and Payne had done what they did at Michigan, they wouldn't have played a second of basketball for the Maize and Blue.  As I mentioned in the thread about arrests yesterday, police in EL treat MSU athletes a lot differently than Ann Arbor police treat Michigan athletes.

Sparty fans may have enjoyed themelves yesterday, but they are about to get their come-uppance.


August 20th, 2015 at 4:16 PM ^

I'm sure MSU will have conveniently destroyed/deleted the documents in question by then, regardless of whether that's permitted by Michigan law. Wasn't Michigan basically doing that under Brandon to skirt FOIA requests, even though there are document retention guidelines in place for government entities?


August 20th, 2015 at 5:47 PM ^

MSU's specific situation aside, ESPN's handling of sensitive personal information cannot be trusted. They could easily crusade against a certain player who might have had some minor infractions. Asking for personalized data is...risky.

I support the study, amd its goals, but Michigan's FOIA laws were put in place for INSTITUTIONAL accountability, not INDIVIDUAL accountability. Under the guise of policing institutions, ESPN is far more likely to violate individual privacy. Risky.

CRISPed in the DIAG

August 20th, 2015 at 4:30 PM ^

There are are retention timelines for different types of public records. I'm not sure that Michigan was doing that w/r/t FOIA, as much as using its ability to charge requesting entities a fee for the time and expense of fulfilling certain information requests - some of which were no more than fishing expeditions intending to test the FOIA policies of various public universities.


August 20th, 2015 at 4:47 PM ^

Maybe now the local media will actually name Appling and Payne as being the suspects in that campus sexual assault case instead of pretending that they're somehow barred from doing so since they were never charged. The lack of charges in Brendan Gibbons' case sure didn't stop them from writing about him. The double standard in how those two cases were reported on was appaling, especially by the reporters at M Live who are mostly Michigan State alums (Gillian Van Stratt and Nick Baumgardner being the two worst offenders). At one point the local media even claimed that they were only permitted to use Gibbons' name in their articles since there was a federal investigation into the matter. Two days later, it came out that the feds were also investigating the Appling/Payne matter, and yet the local media still wouldn't mention them by name. 


August 20th, 2015 at 6:39 PM ^

And the Freep never reported the facts. Dah ..Here is a fact ... Guy at work to sparty bud about the bball rape. "Police handled" Sounds like Columbus OH. At least Michigan reports. I'll take honesty any day. Izzy and Dummy cheat to win ... problem is most parents today don't care cause they also love milking the system. Far cry from a real legal American.


August 20th, 2015 at 4:17 PM ^

Considering both our athlete's misconduct over the last few years and UM's notorious difficulty in complying with FOIA, perhaps we shouldn't throw stones here. Still an interesting topic to note. 

Everyone Murders

August 20th, 2015 at 4:22 PM ^

I'm all for news organizations bringing sunshine to these sorts of matters, regardless of the school.  Ferreting out U-M's treatment of the Gibbons case was painful, but is good for the school in the long run.

And MSU (along with the EL PD and their shitty prosecutor's office) seem to cover up MSU football and men's basketball crimes with some regularity.  This is where the Fourth Estate can do some good in sports.


August 20th, 2015 at 10:23 PM ^

You are right I am not going to read the police report. Nor would I think I would have superior knowledge than the prosecutor to determine whether charges should have been filed.
Do you know where this prosecutor went to law school?


August 21st, 2015 at 1:20 AM ^

So you are willing to throw a UM Law school grad under the bus for this?

Do you have any examples of police departments covering up evidence, botched investigations, athletic department interference? Or is this the only example you can come up with - that "UM message board posters have read the police reports and found the suspects guilty despite what the courts say"


August 21st, 2015 at 10:40 AM ^

And your line of logic is that because I have an opinion in one case that means I must have the same opinion in "every" case.

This wasn't like the FSU/Winston case where the prosecutor had to weigh the case based on a botched police investigation with athletic officials getting involved.

Here is a story with direct quotes from the prosecutor. http://statenews.com/article/2014/02/breaking-assault

But I guess I would be better off assuming these are lies. I should conduct my own investigation without access to the people involved. Or I could rely on the authority of sports message board posters from a school whose favorite teams have been regularly losing to their in-state rivals where these players went to school. That would be a much better unbiased legal source on this matter.

Everyone Murders

August 20th, 2015 at 4:27 PM ^

That whole story is disgusting, and Payne's convenient befriending of the little girl with terminal cancer was the crassest thing I've seen out of E. Lansing in years.  I despise people who use cancer victims as a prop, and the Payne thing (which ESPN, IIRC, helped promote) ... damn, that's infuriating.

I'd love for that piece of shit Payne to get exposed, even if the prosecutor could not muster up interest to investigate.