The NCAA Committee on Infractions Has Spoken: Arkansas State UniversityMarch 21, 2011
A TV Rights Fight: ESPN v. Conference USAApril 7, 2011
In this day and age, coaches and intercollegiate athletics administrators are under a microscope. Anyone who has worked on the campus of a state institution knows the media send daily requests for various emails, reports, and other data compiled by the athletics department. The open records laws all across the country allow journalists to have access to information that is subsequently turned into reading material.
Late last week, it was widely reported that Coach Jim Tressel did not keep the email exchange between a local attorney relating to Terrelle Pryor and others confidential. In fact, he sent the emails to a third-party associated with Terrelle Pryor, but did not forward the emails to
Coach Tressel likely received competent legal counsel during the investigation and subsequent appearances before the media, but there was some kind of disconnect. When representing a coach (especially one as popular as Coach Tressel) it is necessary to explain to the coach the entire framework of the system in an effort to craft a clear message. Once the presentation is made and it goes viral, journalists and naysayers will make every effort to punch holes in the story provided. As such, the following is crucial advice for coaches appearing before the media:
- Tell the truth.
- State institutions are subject to open records requests. As a result, if the media does not already have your emails, they soon will.
- Know what you have written, to whom you have written, and in what form you have written (i.e., emails).
- Know what you have said and to whom you have said it. Has anything you said been recorded (i.e., voicemails)?
- Provide counsel with all written and recorded communications.
- Meet and discuss your presentation with counsel and possibly public relations experts.
Before standing in front of the media, a coach must have a plan. Otherwise, the coach’s job could be in jeopardy. The staples provided above will help a coach understand the severity of providing less than fully accurate information.