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Florida State makes public NCAA documents

By The Associated Press,
First Amendment Center Online staff
10.14.09

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Florida State released documents today on an academic-cheating case that the NCAA tried to keep secret.

The school today made public the 695-page transcript of an NCAA hearing to comply with yesterday’s decision by a Florida appeals court. The 1st District Court of Appeal ruled that the documents are public records.

The transcript was released although the NCAA earlier in the day had appealed the appellate court’s decision to the Florida Supreme Court.

The Associated Press and other news organizations had sued the NCAA, Florida State and the university's outside law firm under the state's open-records sunshine laws.

The appeals court yesterday denied the NCAAA's motions for a rehearing or certification of the case to the Florida Supreme Court as a question of great public importance.

The main document at issue was the transcript of an NCAA hearing held at its Indianapolis headquarters and attended by Florida State President T.K. Wetherell and athletic director Randy Spetman last October.

An NCAA committee then proposed taking wins away from coaches and athletes — even those not implicated in the cheating. That's besides Florida State's self-imposed penalties, which included the loss of athletic scholarships and suspension of those who cheated on an online music-history test.

Florida State is appealing the loss of victories. Football coach Bobby Bowden could lose 14 wins, and that would diminish his already dwindling chances of overtaking Penn State's Joe Paterno as major college football's winningest coach. Paterno has 388 victories. Bowden is four behind.

The NCAA tried to keep the documents secret by putting them on a read-only, secure Web site that could be accessed by Florida State's outside lawyers rather than sending them to the university on paper or through conventional electronic means such as e-mail.

The courts, though, have ruled such technological schemes cannot be used to circumvent the state's public-records law.

The lawsuit also sought the university's response to the proposed penalty. The school, though, already has released the response after manually transcribing it from the read-only Web site.


Update
Fla. high court won't halt release of NCAA-Fla. State documents
Lower court had ordered college-athletics organization to make records from academic-cheating probe public by this afternoon unless it could win stay. 10.28.09

Previous
NCAA must disclose Fla. State cheating-case documents
State appeals court rejects sports organization's arguments that records weren't subject to Sunshine Law. 10.02.09

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