For those of you who wondered last week why Louisiana would need to pass a law that would exempt NIL deals from that state’s open records requirements, an answer may be unfolding locally.
The hot topic in collegiate sports known as NIL — for name, image and likeness — was debated Friday in the Oconee County Courthouse.
Superior Court Judge Eric Norris listened as David Hudson, representing the Athens Banner-Herald, and Edward Tolley, the attorney for the University of Georgia Athletic Association, argued about whether the Athletic Association should release documents through the open records act on UGA athletes with NIL contracts.
You can probably guess the arguments each side raises.
Tolley argued student-athletes have a right to privacy and these NIL contracts are made with an independent third party and not the university. The Athens lawyer likened it to the lottery, where a winner can choose to allow his identity to be known or kept secret.
The student athletes are allowed in the negotiations for an NIL to use a “professional representative, athletic agent or attorney,” according to state code.
Hudson agreed the Athletic Association was a private entity, but because it maintains or receives documents on behalf of a public agency, that information is subject to the open records act.
Hudson also cited previous court ruling involving a Macon Telegraph suit that maintains the Athletic Association is subject to the open records act.
Not sure I buy Tolley’s lottery analogy, but what I’m really curious about is whether the suit winds up shedding any light on how much involvement the program has with its players’ NIL deals.