ESPN Files Suit Against Ohio State

By 11W Staff on July 11, 2011 at 5:41p
91 Comments

This is in response to the university's refusal to turn over emails between Tressel and Ted Sarniak. The university cited the Federal Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) in refusing the request, but ESPN is arguing FERPA does not apply in this situation. Essentially, they're arguing the records are not education records as defined by FERPA and they cite precedent from earlier cases against Miami (OH), Georgia and Illinois.

ESPN is represented by Graydon, Head & Ritchey LLP out of Cincinnati.

UPDATE: Meanwhile, you can read over Tom Farrey's request on behalf of ESPN here. Remember, it was the one that basically said "we know you have 10 days to reply, but can you hook us up in five so we can get it in the Mag?"

Comments

Bucks's picture

Wow. Just wow.

 

Bucks's picture

I hope espn goes after this tooth and nail, and finds that their correspondance was in regards to Tiger Woods & his backstroke.

SouthBayBuckeye's picture

Countersuit for cruel and unusual punishment. AKA Craig James and Mark May.

Banned from ATO since June 3rd 2PMish PST

Ethan's picture

This is ridiculous. The "worldwide leader" is acting like a middle school girl who got dumped, then can talk about nothing but anything that could be potentially negative about the ex. Case in point: Kalis to tsun has been on the front page. Seriously? A recruit who is not in the top 10 of your rankings commits to another school 6 months before national signing day, and THAT is front page news? What a freaking joke

SensibleBuckeye's picture

I couldn't agree more

NeARBuckeye's picture

I know a guy from college that works for Espn at their headquarters. I'm gonna ask for a tour and then promptly shit all over the floor. Don't worry I'll wear an Auburn shirt so I can run out of the building giggling like a school girl. At which point I expect to be awarded the national championship for floor shitting.

Bucks's picture

Dedication ceremony if you can add Mark May to that whole pooping on scenario.

 

While this is annoying and just childish on the part of ESPN, it is either an excellent or terrible sign (likely excellent). It has been mentioned over and over again that espn keeps coming to Cbus trying to turn up anything they possibly can. Not just investigating, begging anyone who will listen to say one bad thing.

If this is what they are resorting to, they either have no ability to find a single damn thing or have reason to believe there is something to see. Either way, the judgement will not go in their favor with the courts.

Bucksfan's picture

This is absolutely preposterous.  They're going to get their way if Tressel was using his university email account, but their intentions are to bury Ohio State as the language they use in their affadavids is clearly malicious.

For example, "In short, when times are good, Ohio State lets the world know.  When times are bad, however, not so much." - Memorandum in support of compaint for writ of mandamus p.1

 

Maestro's picture

Is that seriously in there?

vacuuming sucks

Matt's picture

I'm not an expert in FOIA or FERPA law, but I initially thought OSU's refusal related to Sarniak information on FERPA grounds was a bit weird.  OSU also heavily redacted its Sarniak-related information in its response to the NCAA Notice of Allegation.  I wouldn't be surprised to see ESPN prevail in this case.

BuckeyeChief's picture

This makes me really not want to go to Disney this year.

 

"Clutch has no boundaries"

tampa buckeye's picture

Your kid will love it.  Universal is just as fun IMO if not more.

Bucksfan's picture

Dispatch has been talking to Attorney General to get the records released:

http://www.dispatch.com/live/content/local_news/stories/2011/07/11/espn-...

So, ESPN is not alone apparently.

SouthBayBuckeye's picture

The Dispatch knows how to bite the hand that feeds.

Banned from ATO since June 3rd 2PMish PST

SouthPlainfieldNut's picture

The Ohio State University doesn't sign the Dispatch's paychecks. Obtaining records for stories is commonplace. As the biggest newspaper in the city, are they supposed to turn their heads away?

SouthPlainfieldNut's picture

Furthermore, the day that the Dispatch DOESN'T try to obtain records to thoroughly report a story is the day I lose faith in quality journalistic practice.

biggy84's picture

The Dispatch is hardly "quality journalism." Remember the car for free story?

SouthPlainfieldNut's picture

The Thaddeus Gibson "$0" thing doesn't prohibit the Dispatch or any news medium from obtaining records.

biggy84's picture

No it doesn't. It does speak to the whole quality journalism thing though.

Kalamazoo Steve's picture

I thought I read that the emails were in/through JT's personal account, not the schools. Could this give OSU reason to tell them no?

nickma71's picture

It isn't a story. They are fully subjective, and not objective in any way shape or form. They are the sports version of "Countdown".

Bucksfan's picture

I'm just wondering how many of Tress's emails have Pryor's email cc'd or Tressel's email having been cc'd on emails from Pryor to/from Sarniak.  Those should most certainly constitute a right to privacy because a student's address was used.  I know that a newspaper cannot ask the University for any and all emails I sent while in college just because they feel like it and I went to a public school.  Students have rights that are to be protected.  The advice they seek from University faculty is not owned by the public, provided it is legal in nature.

Kalamazoo Steve's picture

Douche weasels. That is all.

AcrossTheField11's picture

What's the worst that could come of this if they were to lose. Tressel and pryors reputations have already been sullied.

I just pray that these emails don't somehow tie gee/smith to the situation or show some sort of LOIC.

Time and change will surely show how firm they friendship... O-HI-O.

Jason Priestas's picture

There's a very, very good chance that the NCAA already has their hands on these emails, too.

AcrossTheField11's picture

Good point. The news of email forwards to sarniak came before the notice of allegations. Id think the NCAA would have turned this stone or at least attempted to.

Time and change will surely show how firm they friendship... O-HI-O.

JT's picture

I believe it's time we stop watching this channel until kickoff.  Seriously, what news will we get that won't be on this site?  Right now, it's only updates and bad stories. 

 

I just turned off the LSU-UNC game.... anyone else

JozyMozy's picture

It's been years since I've watched any of espn's original programming at all. If I HAD to pick, I'd chose PTI. Even though I don't feel like I'm missing out by not watching. 

Fear The Elf's picture

Honestly, I'd pick the launch of PTI as the begining of espin's downfall in terms of usefullness. Instead of showing games and highlights, it became elitist, east coast journalists believeing if they have a mediocre position on something and yell real loud, it makes then geniuses. If there is a game on espin that I want to watch and I cannot get it elsewhere, I'll watch it. Other than that, I really do not see what purpose espin serves.

Pam's picture

I had an Insider account and a subscription to ESPN the Mag.  Both are canceled along with SI. I won't go on the website and will only watch our games live. It won't happen but I would love for tOSU ban CGD from campus.

biggy84's picture

I would love for tOSU to call out secpn and boycott the network. It is obvious that no matter what OSU does the public and the tabloid media are not going to be happy. Why even try? In retrospect, tOSU should have told the media to pound sand. LSU and Oregon are doing just that. 

AngelHeartsBuckeyes's picture

Same here Pam. I remember you from way back on those boards (I was ozcarwnnr back then). I have been in full - on boycott mode as well. I could barely tolerate then prior to December, let alone now.

Buckeye born and bred. Buckeye til I'm dead.

Pam's picture

I remember you! It was fun to take on the idiots back then. But no mo'

NC_Buckeye's picture

Given all that's happened with regards to Herbstreit, I think GameDay might avoid Columbus on its own accord. There isn't a lot of love in C-town for the WWL right now. I don't expect it to change within the next three months.

Can you imagine the signage that the cameras will be trying to avoid or the chants from the crowd? I imagine that immediately went thru some producer's mind upon learning of this lawsuit. I can see him making arrangements for the Los Angeles Coliseum on Oct. 29th as I type this.

If only SI had some kind of live GameDay equivalent. We could burn Dohrmann in effigy. Man, that would be worth the price of admission.

SouthBayBuckeye's picture

I would LOVE to see gameday in Columbus now that you say that.

Banned from ATO since June 3rd 2PMish PST

NeARBuckeye's picture

I'd be handing out those press on tattoos, sweater vests, and starting throwing rolls of raffle tickets at Mark May's head.

Bucks's picture

Ha, if I was Desmond ... I'd be begging to never return for a CGD. Cannot imagine how he won't be injured if they attempt to come on campus this season.

Scott K's picture

Nah, don't ban CGD, just rally enough people to completely bombard the program while it's live so as to make their broadcasting of such program impossible. 

I'd LOVE to see the spin on that...Herbie'd say it's the ones who drove him out of Ctown...

"There's a fine line between stupid, and....clever.  David St. Hubbins/Nigel Tufnel

BuckeyeSki's picture

Booking flight from Albany.......now

Banned from BlackShoeDiaries since 2008. Crime: Slander/Defamation of Character Judgement: Guilty

WC Buckeye's picture

Or how about everyone by the stage wear a t-shirt with a picture of JT on the BACK and just face away from the cameras the whole time? That would be some powerful shit. Can't happen, though - people can't help themselves when there are cameras around. Call it the "Class Out". Make it so bad for them that they never WANT to come back.

The only thing that's new in the world is the history that we have forgotten.

btalbert25's picture

They couldn't censor 10,000 fans hold signs that say FUCK ESPN lol.  Maybe have everyone bring a vuvuzela so the whole time Herbie, Fowler, or Desmond speak everyone makes as much damn noise as possible. Cowbells and milk jugs with change in them make a lot of noise too.  It'll be like the crowd of a high school game lol.  They'll hate it so much they'll never come back.

WC Buckeye's picture

That would be awesome. The only tricky thing is making sure that none of the production crew knows about it. Time to take it underground, boys...

The only thing that's new in the world is the history that we have forgotten.

biggy84's picture

I no longer watch or visit secpn. The female reporter that was here a week or so ago plainly said that secpn wanted anything to substantiate dirt and that they needed it to verify their accusations. 

 

Why aren't the Dispatch or an secpn rival investigate them? Proving the WWL as biased hacks would be big news.

BuckeyeChief's picture

In an alternate universe, I am not an upstanding member of society, but rather a homeless bum,  and I could do dumb shit like harrass said reporter.

 

"Clutch has no boundaries"

Denny's picture

Seems pretty 'alt'.

Taquitos.

blazers34's picture

whether its BS or not, it seems like the hits just keep coming. 

Denny's picture

You forgot to include the term 'butthurt' in this article title, guys.

Taquitos.

Buckeye in Athens's picture

Well, we always kinda knew this would be a storm that we'd just have to wait out. It'll be awhile before positive news/press comes our way, but when we win big game after big game next year, it'll all be ok. 

TLB's picture

I ever tell you guys how much I dislike the 4letter?  I have no idea why anyone watches or listens to their crap.  TV is nothing but cross-sell for other programs and radio is just awful, especially those idiots in the morning.

i still think they are upset with the B1G Network and losing out on some games.  If I were leading the B1G I would not allow them to televise any games I could put on my own network, unless the financial rewards were too great. 

bstadnik's picture

I used to say I needed to "Take a Modell", until further notice I will now use I need to "Take an ESPY"! That is all

Brian

Go Bucks!

Is it Saturday Yet's picture

I take the Browns to the Superbowl.......

biggy84's picture

I bomb porcelain harbor.

Tony's picture

I take my talents to South Beach.

NoVA Buckeye's picture

I take my professional football organization to the city of Baltimore. I will also take its history and pride and shove it up my a**

The offseason begins when your season ends. Even then there are no days off.

Reens's picture

I'm kinda mixed on this. I obviously despise ESPN, but I think that being so petty with something like this would like actually turn people who love them, against them. Maybe LRMR is representing ESPN now too. This isn't just a "homer" thing now. And it really hasn't been. But the more that they try to create stories and dig for stuff that isnt' there, the more childish they'll look. 

At least I hope so. 

biggy84's picture

The problem is that every moron that hates OSU just gets more ammo. They do shape public perception with their words. A lot of people (morons) believe everything they say.

JT's picture

How about on the same weekend that the Ohio HS coaches decide to wear a button-down shirt and tie in support of Tressel, we decide not to watch gameday and every other E#PN channel.  We get highlights off the net or live TV.  One week won't kill us but it may blip the ratings.

 

biggy84's picture

It may sound stupid but i am tellin all my buddies to have their fantasy football leagues away from secpn. It will only involve a few hundred people, but what if all OSU fans did it? They charge advertising by using numbers on website hits and fantasy leagues. I know it sounds geeky, but i'm doing my part.

AltaBuck's picture

" We gotta take these bastards(SECPN). Now we could do it with conventional weapons, but that could take years and cost millions of lives. No, I think we have to go all out. I think that this situation absolutely requires a really futile and stupid gesture be done on somebody's part!"

Signed - Otter

I have been known on occasion to howl at the moon. - Crash Davis

AltaBuck's picture

Sorry for the double post...on a Blkberry due to power outage and a 6 pack of 90 schilling

I have been known on occasion to howl at the moon. - Crash Davis

MYBLUEHEAVEN's picture

BSPN just out for the ratings. Michigan fans had to sport their shit blockers from all the crap that was being toss out daily by our beloved Free Press while on their crusade to can RR. Nowadays media believes they can dictate who gets fired, and who gets hired by manipulating public opinion.

Unfortunately, success breeds envy and when your as successful as OSU has been (that hurt) over the last decade, you a be surprised how many eyes are genuinely green under those blue, black, and brown contacts. Stay thirsty my friends!!!that hurt) over the last decade, you a be surprised how many eyes are genuinely green under those blue, black, and brown contacts. Stay thirsty my friends!!!

I like that part in the movie where Joe Pesci stabs the Guy in the trunk while he's still alive... Classic!!!

Maestro's picture

Did MBH get scratched?

vacuuming sucks

ih8rolltyde's picture

FYI. Easports shit the bed in football 12. Pryor starter. Braxton Miller apparently wears 9 is fourth string and sucks balls. Pissed I bought it.

****igan smells like old water that hot dogs were boiled in.  FACT

JakeBuckeye's picture

And God knows you can't change that, right?

/sarcasm

RoweTrain's picture

By the time Pryor decided to leave it was too late for them to take him out of the game.  Just like with Masoli and Oregon in last year's game.

Brax wearing #9 is a huge mistake though because he wore it all spring when there was plenty of time to get the number right.  I know they're trying to not make it exactly perfect because of the player likeness issue but since we have Dominic Clarke as #5 as well on the team, one of them will not be able to have that number.  Not being able to edit for duplicate numbers is probably my biggest gripe with the game.

NoVA Buckeye's picture

in ncaa 10, they have duron carter as a qb who pretty much sucks balls. i think its a continuity

The offseason begins when your season ends. Even then there are no days off.

cal3713's picture

I kind of liked this part of ESPN's allegations:

"The Ohio State football program (the "Program") is one of the most storied and successful in the country. The Program boasts 7 National Championships dating back to 1942, 9 undefeated seasons dating back to 1899, and 35 conference titles dating back to 1906. A perennial championship contender, the Program is an enormous operation that generates revenue for and interest in the university. Ohio State consistently promotes and markets its players as part of this operation."

Bucksfan's picture

When I read that originally, I thought the whole suit was a hoax.

Jim's picture

The one point no one raises is the reason behind ESPN's request, IMHO.  Do you really believe that Tressel didn't share some information with Smith, Gee or someone in compliance.  I have believed since this matter surfaced that Tressel is the fall guy, although it is one hell of a fall, and not that it wasn't deserved. When you lie, you are through. I just find it inconceivable that when the emails started, he didn't walk down the proverbial hall and talk with someone.  That, I suspect, is what ESPN is fishing for.  Should they be right, the ramifications are huge to the individuals and the university.

OSU has botched this from the beginning which is why the story is never ending. Remember, Watergate was a second rate burglary until someone started covering things up. My guess is that they will be forced to provide ESPN with the information.

Bucks's picture

Sorry, but no. OSU has absolutely botched this from a PR perspective, yes. As Jason mentioned earlier in the thread though, the NCAA already has whatever information ESPN is looking for.

I highly doubt there is anything significant in these Sarniak emails. As for the continual belief that someone else knew in the university, that may be so but there is no proof. If there was a chance of it, the situation & type of response would be much different.

Unfortunately for espn, they will not get a ruling in their favor & whatever is on the table will be dealt with by the infractions committee.

 

Jason Priestas's picture

I think they will be forced to hand over the emails as well (unless the Ohio Supremes turn over a home court ruling), but I have to imagine the NCAA already has their hands on these emails.

thorvath22's picture

Since we no longer have a victory against the SEC, the next best thing would be to get one against ESPN....the players really have to feel like it is them vs. The world.

vidstudent's picture

On the one hand, the malicious intent is fairly well observed.  I would have taken the full ten days out of spite.

However, the university's been abusing FERPA for a while now - The Lantern can certainly attest.  The second arguement used here is sound - there is *no* protection for documents requested here.  It doesn't matter if Terelle Pryor's name is all over those e-mails (and, certainly, if it is, that's a big probem that could easily result in a new Notice of Allegations), because ESPN is asking for non-student e-mail regarding a non-student.  There's no standing for withholding the e-mails.  The University may be able to cover some of the rest of this failure to respond to a FOIA well with the excuse of being overwhelmed by requests at the time, but I see ESPN getting taxpayer funds for its attorneys because this is blatant disregard.

Nicholas Eckert

vidstudent

AcrossTheField11's picture

I doubt ESPN will reap any monitary rewards from this lawsuit.  FERPA protects students' academic records AND student behavior from the public records.  This Rife stuff would certainly fall under the behavior category.  I don't know whether or not his not being a student anymore effects the protection that FERPA provides.  Regardless, as Jason said before, the NCAA probably already has these emails so anything that would come to light would just be more smear ammo.

I understand and respect the necessity of the journalism profession to keep things honest, just as I respect the fact that lawyers are a necessity, but goddamn they can both be some of the most evil scum of the earth at times.

Time and change will surely show how firm they friendship... O-HI-O.

btalbert25's picture

I read above the Ohio State should ban Game Day, and I thought they already have.  Didn't Geiger basically tell them not to bother after the Clarrett mess.  Seems like the was an OSU/Michigan game or some other really big game that I was sure Game Day would come to and they never showed up.  When I asked someone where game day was they said Ohio State told them to stick it.  It may have just been BS, but it seemed like several people on campus that day shared this view.

cal3713's picture

They've been to a number of games at the horseshoe since then... at least one if not 2 or 3 a year.

btalbert25's picture

I've read the comments here and saw people talking about not viewing ESPN for 1 game to affect the ratings.  I thought about it some and I did a blog post about the way I think Ohio State fans can actually have a strong negative impact on ESPN.  It will take a little more work than simply not turning to that channel, but it I believe it will work if enough people act on it.

spqr2008's picture

My suggestion would be for Ohio State to immediately go to Mike Dewine, the Ohio Attorney General, who's also not so bright, and ask him to file suit against ESPN for Defrauding Taxpayers by causing the University to have to spend money on lawyers.  While I do believe in free access to information for real press organizations, ESPN has repeatedly switched from being a "entertainment" organization to a "journalistic" organization, depending on which will keep it from being sued for fraud, libel, or other contract breaches.  If ESPN is not a journalistic organization (which again, it has never completely defined itself as), it has no legitimate First Amendment grounds on which to stand.  For example, if Batelle (a Columbus area chemical company) wanted these records, the FOIA wouldn't apply, because they have no legitimate interest in the records, and Ohio State could state as much in its defense of its position.  Besides, why not make those lazy idiots work harder?  You mean they might actually have to do some investigative journalism? OH NO!!! Not that!!! It's going to be much easier to just call the bigshot Disney Lawyers to take care of it.

Seth9's picture

If ESPN is not a journalistic organization (which again, it has never completely defined itself as), it has no legitimate First Amendment grounds on which to stand.  For example, if Batelle (a Columbus area chemical company) wanted these records, the FOIA wouldn't apply, because they have no legitimate interest in the records, and Ohio State could state as much in its defense of its position. 

Ohio law does not require that a person who requests records be a journalist. Nor does it require a person requesting records to give an explanation for why they want said records. It doesn't even require a person requesting public records to disclose their identity. Here is a link to the Ohio Open Records act, and to save time, here is the relevant segment of the law:

(4) Unless specifically required or authorized by state or federal law or in accordance with division (B) of this section, no public office or person responsible for public records may limit or condition the availability of public records by requiring disclosure of the requester’s identity or the intended use of the requested public record. Any requirement that the requester disclose the requestor’s identity or the intended use of the requested public record constitutes a denial of the request.

Nappy's picture

If the ruling favors ESPN and OSU is forced to release the emails, they should release them to other media outlets first just to stick it to ESPN.  Then ESPN can be butthurt with all the dumb _ichigan and PSU fans.

Fan of bacon since 1981

btalbert25's picture

Aren't the ratings numbers all extrapolated from Nielsen boxes?  When you hear that 10 million people tuned in, isn't this just information that is projected from the 12-35,000 or so homes that have Nielsen boxes?  Pretty much what i"m getting at is, if you don't have a Nielsen Box, ESPN will never know that you didn't watch their channel.  So banning their family of networks isn't felt at all be ESPN.

NeARBuckeye's picture

I'm a Nielsen participant. I watch fox sports now.

btalbert25's picture

Excellent!  I just read where there are anywhere from 12,000-37000 Nielsen participants out there but 112 million television viewers.  So, unless there are a bunch of Buckeyes with the box, ESPN won't feel the ratings hurt.  One way to influence is some is to quit going on their webpage or viewing games through their sites and stuff like that. 

SouthBayBuckeye's picture

done AND done

Banned from ATO since June 3rd 2PMish PST

Another Jason's picture

So, let me see if I have this straight: ESPN is arguing that OSU has to provide the documents because FERPA does not "prohibit" them from doing so; it only states that federal funds will be witheld if they do (this is assuming that the documents do indeed contain "non-directory" information about students, which it seems to me that they almost certainly do if they are about Pryor, et al. in any way).

Am I missing something here?  If this is indeed the case, then couldn't anyone just make a cleverly-structured request of any public institution and effectively force them into forfeiting their federal funding?  There's no way this can be right.

Seth9's picture

That's not the important point in ESPN's argument. The important point in their argument is that the emails are not covered by FERPA because they are not education records.

Another Jason's picture

It becomes the important point if it's decided that they are indeed covered by FERPA.  ESPN specifically points out several times that EVEN IF they were covered, it wouldn't matter, blah blah blah.  That's not a coincidence.  I could be wrong, but it's my understanding that FERPA covers any student information that can not be reasonably considered "directory" information.  I'm not sure how these documents could NOT contain non-directory information about Terrelle Pryor, considering the presumed topics and the relationship between he and Sarniak.