Ohio Supreme Court Rules Against ESPN

By Kyle Rowland on June 19, 2012 at 10:27 am

UPDATE 12:28pm: Ohio State has issued a statement on the Ohio Supreme Court ESPN ruling:

“Ohio State appreciates the clarity given today by the Ohio Supreme Court affirming the university’s interpretation of federal student privacy laws.   Our student athletes are treated the same way as all of our 64,000 students, and we take seriously our obligation to protect the confidentiality of all of our students’ education records. At the same time, the university also takes seriously its obligation to provide public information in accordance with Ohio law. The university provided ESPN with thousands of pages of records during the course of our NCAA investigation, and as now affirmed by a unanimous court, it acted responsibly in responding to the many varied and broad public record requests it received.”

Buckeye fans can rejoice a little. No, Michigan was not defeated by the Canadians. Instead, the Ohio Supreme Court has ruled in Ohio State University’s favor in regards to a lawsuit brought forth by ESPN over records the World Wide Leader wanted to uncover in connection the “TatGate” and the ensuing NCAA investigation, the Associated Press first reported Tuesday

The Court unanimously ruled in Ohio State’s favor in almost all cases, saying the university acted appropriately in securing documents that are protected by federal privacy laws – mainly the Federal Educational Rights and Privacy Act – or attorney-client privilege.

“It is impossible to imagine that Congress had any interest in restricting the flow of information about shady deals at a tattoo parlor when it passed FERPA in 1974,” ESPN stated in the suit.

The decision in the almost year-long case was not a surprising one. Since the lawsuit was first reported in July 2011, several prominent organizations viewed an outcome in Ohio State’s favor.

At the heart of the lawsuit were records relating to Jim Tressel and Terrelle Pryor that ESPN felt should be made public through Freedom of Information Act requests. ESPN’s stance was Ohio State violated the state’s public records law by refusing to release emails between Tressel, Gene Smith and Gordon Gee that dealt with Pryor’s high school mentor, Ted Sarniak. 

ESPN won a small margin of victory in a few cases, being granted the right to view certain documents, though Ohio State must remove “certain names” before they are handed over to ESPN.

You can view the court's opinion after the jump.

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