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Filing FOI for a coach's phone records: Good journalism or invasion of privacy?

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by Omar_dont_scare, Apr 5, 2007.

  1. So Arkansas is all a-quiver about this story where a fan filed an FOI for Houston Nutt's cell phone records, then forwarded his findings onto the board of trustees.

    Juicy stuff abounds within. Good, meaty tabloid-type fodder.

    Apparently, Arkansas paid the phone bill, thus the records were accessible. Now all those bills are going to a foundation loosely affiliated with the university, but as a "private" organization, not accessible under an FOI.

    A few questions

    1) If a university could do this with coaches' phone records, what would prevent a government from doing the same with phones owned by employees?

    2) How many people in other places are going to follow suit?

    3) Is this OK for a journalist? I mean, if you're investigating a particular story, that's one thing. But just to file an FOI them for the sake of doing so to see what dirt you can expose... I don't know, it seems like an unnecessary invasion of privacy.

    Thoughts?
     
  2. Moland Spring

    Moland Spring Member

    Re: Subpoenaing a coach's phone records: Good journalism or invasion of privacy?

    I know of a few football beat reporters (Joe Person of the State comes to mind) who do this all the time. Great journalism. If a coach is breaking the rules, making too many calls or whatever, the public needs to know. Wouldn't Kelvin Sampson's infraction have been uncovered earlier if an Oklahoman reporter had done this?
     
  3. Re: Subpoenaing a coach's phone records: Good journalism or invasion of privacy?

    That part I get, but what about the stuff in the Nutt transcript with all the wee-hour calls and texts to the female TV reporter? Is that news?
     
  4. SixToe

    SixToe Active Member

    Re: Subpoenaing a coach's phone records: Good journalism or invasion of privacy?

    Given the high profile of coaches today and the possible, or probable, use of a state-owned telephone paid with university money, then yes.
     
  5. Inky_Wretch

    Inky_Wretch Well-Known Member

    For people wondering what Omar is talking about...

    http://deadspin.com/sports/college-football/ever-wonder-who-houston-nutt-talks-to-todays-your-lucky-day-249866.php

    Seems like something a gossip columnist would be interested in, not something for the sports pages.
     
  6. leo1

    leo1 Active Member

    some schools, like florida, have a foundation set up exclusively for the purpose of making this kind of info non-public. from what i've been told, the foundation more or less pays the bills for the athletic department, so other than the basics of the football and basketball coach's contracts, most of the data is un FOI-able.
     
  7. Moland Spring

    Moland Spring Member

    Re: Filing FOI for a coach's phone records: Good journalism or invasion of priva

    Yes, Leo is right. I think Ole Miss does this, as well. Sneaky bastards. I don't think the football coach having an affair is news. But the fact that he used a cell phone paid for by the public (pretty much) makes it news. Our tax dollars at work! And then, you go, well, what else has he used public money for....?
     
  8. Rockbottom

    Rockbottom Active Member

    Moland, next time you are in The Heart Of Dixie -- Alabama -- you might want to ask if Mike Dubose's affair was "news".

    Just sayin'. :)

    rb
     
  9. JayFarrar

    JayFarrar Well-Known Member

    You can also get credit card statements, if a university card is used.
    You can also FOI university-issued reimbursement checks if a personal card was used for university business.
    All it means is that the black helicopter internet crowd is about to make the job very much harder for media outlets.
    Everything will be moved to the various foundations and nothing will be available under FOI. Until someone mounts an expensive legal challenge to the foundation system, and that won't be happening anytime soon.
     
  10. scribbler

    scribbler Member

    Well, an Oklahoman reporter did do that.
     
  11. Mighty_Wingman

    Mighty_Wingman Active Member

    Yep. It's the Internets' fault. Damn Internets.
     
  12. mcwritermm

    mcwritermm New Member

    Re: Filing FOI for a coach's phone records: Good journalism or invasion of priva

    Coaches are accountable to NCAA compliance officers for all calls made involving recruiting, regardless of whether the phone bills are subject to the FoI Act. Most ADs have moved to paying a stipend to coaches, and coaches obtaining and managing their own mobile phones.

    Very few D-1 athletic departments operate with taxpayers' (i.e., state or federal) revenue support.
     
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