ESPN has filed suit against Ohio State University (“OSU”) and claims that OSU failed to provide documents in accordance with a Freedom of Information Act request made pursuant to Ohio law. Essentially, ESPN claims OSU inappropriately denied three requests made relating to the NCAA’s current investigation of OSU. The matters at issue are as follows:
Request No. 1: “ESPN asked for documents or correspondence, both internal and external, between the NCAA, Ohio State and its representatives related to the NCAA’s investigation of Tressel and student athletes Terrelle Pryor, Devier Posey, Daniel Herron, Mike Adams and Solomon Thomas. Specifically, ESPN asked for access to and a copy of ‘[a]ll emails, letters and memos to and from Jim Tressel, Gordon Gee, Doug Archie, and/or Gene Smith with key word Sarniak since March 15, 2007.’”
OSU Response No. 1: OSU would not release emails from Jim Tressel, Doug Archie, or Gene Smith relating to Ted Sarniak, because such release is prohibited by the Federal Educational Rights and Privacy Act (“FERPA”).
ESPN Argument No. 1: OSU violated Section 149.43 of the Ohio Revised Code by failing to provide “all public records responsive to the request….”
Request No. 2: ESPN made a request for “[a]ll documents and emails, letters, and memos related to NCAA investigations prepared for and/or forwarded to the NCAA since 1/1/2010 related to an investigation of Jim Tressel.”
OSU Response No. 2: OSU responded by stating “[w]e will not release anything on the pending investigation.”
ESPN Argument No. 2: OSU violated Section 149.43(B)(3) of the Ohio Revised Code by failing to provide an explanation and legal authority setting forth the basis for the denial of the request.
Request No. 3: ESPN made a request for “[a]ny and all emails or documents listing people officially barred from student-athlete pass lists (game tickets) since January 1, 2007” and “[a]ny report, email, or other correspondence between the NCAA and Doug Archie or any other Ohio State athletic department official related to any violation (including secondary violation) of NCAA rules involving the football program, since January 1, 2005.”
OSU Response No. 3: OSU responded by stating “[w]e would deem this to be overly broad per Ohio’s public record laws.”
ESPN Argument No. 3: OSU violated Sections 149.43(B)(2) and (B)(3) of the Ohio Revised Code by failing to provide ESPN with an opportunity to revise the request and failing to provide a legal basis for the denial of the request.
As a result of the alleged conduct, ESPN seeks the documents requested and attorney’s fees and court costs in accordance with Section 149.43(C)(1) of the Ohio Revised Code.