Florida State Moves Forward with Plans to Privatize Its Athletic Department

By 11W Staff on June 9, 2019 at 1:24 pm
Chief Osceola doesn't have time for your public records request.
Melina Vastola-USA TODAY Sports

Public records requests can often turn up information that is not flattering, so Florida State has a plan for that. The school's board of trustees voted Friday to create the Florida State Athletics Association, a private entity that will manage the athletic department for the Seminoles.

Florida State University is privatizing its athletics department, shielding it from public-records requests and treating it like a corporation rather than a traditional state university department.

The school touted the move as an opportunity to streamline the relationship between the athletics department and Seminoles Booster, Inc., the fundraising arm of the athletics department. The change alters a set-up that gave a booster group an unusually prominent role in fundraising for an athletic department, granting considerable power to a third-party group.

Right. Because there was no other way to reign in boosters. The public records shield is just a side benefit.

The switch will also give FSU athletics all the privileges of a private corporation, including declining any public-records requests while still preserving its sovereign immunity. The immunity clause for state agencies caps any jury judgments or settlements reached by the athletics department at $200,000. Any further settlements would have to be approved by the state Legislature to avoid undue burden on taxpayers, a privilege not enjoyed by traditional corporations.

And they still get sovereign immunity? That's a hell of a deal. For as much as the NCAA hates the word “employee” when it comes to student-athletes, privatizing athletic departments does not seem like a wise move.

Florida State expects the new changes to be implemented this fall.

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