Okay, it may not be Woodward and Bernstein, but, honestly, you’ve gotta give Marc Weiszer a major tip of the cap for using an open records request to get the details on Kirby Smart’s day lobbying the state legislature to change the open records law. I love it.
Category Archives: Political Wankery
You can almost see those championship trophies lining the wall in Butts-Mehre now, can’t you?
Georgia’s public college athletic associations now have far more time to respond to open records requests under legislation signed into law Monday by Gov. Nathan Deal despite an uproar from First Amendment advocates.
The legislation, Senate Bill 323, allows the athletic departments at UGA, Georgia Tech and other state colleges to wait 90 days before responding to Open Records Act requests. Athletic associations, like all state agencies, previously had three days to acknowledge the requests.
Deal’s office did not immediately comment on his decision to sign the legislation.
Thereby proving that Deal is the only smart one in the bunch on this.
As a long time member of the Georgia House of Representatives, I have been a tireless supporter of University of Georgia athletics, both because I know for many of you it’s the only part of our state’s secondary education infrastructure to which you pay attention and because I believe it is crucial for us to play on the same field as Alabama and everybody else.
That is why I helped lead the charge for the passage of Senate Bill 323 in the just ended legislative session. The bill, which awaits Governor Deal’s signature, is vital to our state’s interests because, in the words of Sen. Cowsert’s chief of staff, “It had to do with football teams or athletic departments that are recruiting people in state of Georgia. They had a (shorter) window where the documents were not yet public, but other states had 90 days.”
I don’t know about you, but I am sick and tired of the Nick Sabans of the world coming into our fair state, hiding under cover of their Open Records laws and stealing our local talent away to play for championships that our beloved Dawgs are being denied because of some legal technicality that gives these other SEC programs access to important information about which high school players may be under consideration for the opportunity to wear the red and black. I may be a longtime conservative Republican who believes the concept of limited government as envisioned by the Founding Fathers to be sacred, but Thomas Jefferson never had to recruit a coveted five-star quarterback.
I write to each and every one of you today because while SB 323 represents a big step forward, our work is not yet done. Just yesterday, I read the sports section of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and discovered that the newspaper is still disclosing what should be confidential information about certain recruits whom Kirby Smart may (I emphasize the word “may” there because I don’t want to tip Kirby’s hand, of course) be pursuing. I mean, really, do we want Butch Jones to know that Cartersville five-star quarterback Trevor Lawrence has a scheduling conflict in his choice to attend either Georgia’s or Tennessee’s spring game? I think not.
Clearly, there is more work to be done. And that’s why I need your help. More to the point, that’s why Kirby Smart needs your help. Whatever you can provide – financial contributions, suggestions on new legislation that would stop this information from crippling our recruiting, urging your state legislator to support this mission – would be deeply appreciated. It’s very important that we hear from you.
As the Lieutenant Governor said at the time of the bill’s passage, “I hope it brings us a national championship.” We deserve no less.
Thank you for your kind attention.
Very truly yours and Go, Dawgs!
Rep. Earl Ehrhart
Jon Solomon took in last week’s College Athletes’ Rights & Empowerment (CARE) conference. There’s a lot in his report, but the bit about where the NCAA is ready to go if the courts don’t go the way it wants in all the outstanding antitrust litigation is of most interest to me.
Within the movement, one of the most contentious debates is whether to negotiate a conditional antitrust exemption for the NCAA in exchange for other benefits. An exemption could remove the legal challenges the NCAA continues to face in court over its rules.
If Congress got involved, it’s possible a commission could be created to study players’ rights issues and require changes in exchange for a conditional exemption. But there’s deep skepticism within parts of the movement that Congress would do anything but help the NCAA, which appears to view Congress as a last-ditch effort if necessary.
New York Times columnist Joe Nocera said he has documents showing the NCAA’s general counsel saying that if amateurism rules are seriously in jeopardy under antitrust law, the NCAA’s athletic directors, coaches and universities would go to Congress to pass an exemption for the NCAA. A high-ranking administrator in major college sports echoed the same sentiment to CBS Sports, saying that the NCAA believes it can get an exemption immediately if the courts allow players to be paid.
The NCAA spent $1 million on lobbyists in 2014 and 2015, according to records listed on opensecrets.org. That’s far less than the NFL spent those two years ($2.4 million), but the NCAA’s two-year total exceeded its lobbying total from 2008-13 ($990,000). The NCPA, the most structured organization in the athletes’ rights movement, spent $26,582 on lobbying efforts in 2014, according to the NCPA’s 2014 tax form.
NCAA president Mark Emmert said there is not a plan “right now” to go before Congress. “But at some point it may well be we wind up with a case in front of the Supreme Court to ascertain what the ultimate state of the law is and what the Supreme Court thinks that collegiate sports should look like in America,” Emmert said from the Final Four this week. “Then we’ll see where that goes.”
Within some circles among administrators in college sports, there’s a belief the NCAA wants a seminal moment to wake up Congress and get a swift, definitive and favorable answer on antitrust law as legal fees from court cases continue to rise. In other words, such a moment could be a players’ strike or a Supreme Court decision against the NCAA.
I hear a lot of wishful thinking there. From all sides. As far as what the NCAA believes it can get, last time I checked, barring a veto override, Congress can’t turn a bill into a law without a President’s signature. And this is so much bullshit from Andrew Zimbalist:
“Congress will get involved if there’s a judicially-imposed solution,” said Zimbalist, a prominent economics professor at Smith College. “They’re not just going to let it stand. … A judge-imposed solution or a legal settlement is not a democratic resolution of the problem. It’s an arbitrary solution among the people in the room when the case is heard.”
So every time a lawsuit is settled, it’s an invitation for Congress to jump in with a democratic resolution? Stupid me. I thought antitrust law is a democratic resolution of the problem.
By the way, I wonder if coaches should be a little nervous if the NCAA marches to Washington for help. I mean, if you’re the schools asking for relief on the pay front, why stop with student-athletes while you’re there?
Those of you who are sickened by the thought of reading another post about the Open Records law can assume I’m just screwing with you and skip what follows to avoid upsetting your delicate sensibilities even further, but the rest of you might find this comparison either amusing or obnoxious, depending on your level of cynicism.
And that’s exactly why the proposed Georgia law is so egregious. It may be intended to hide recruiting activities, which, okay, sounds pretty bad already, but the practical effect is that it could kill legitimate reporting on serious or even criminal issues within an athletic program in the name of keeping up with the competition. Even better, it gives the athletic departments of Georgia universities more time to respond to information requests than the National Security Agency generally requires.
Yessir. If you accept Rep. Earhart’s insistence about the bill’s purpose (“The pure and only intention on this is… so people don’t have access to find out who our schools are recruiting”) at face value, I guess you could say the Georgia General Assembly takes the threat of Nick Saban’s recruiting more seriously than national security.
And to think some people have the nerve to question Southerners’ perspective about college football. Sheesh.
For those of you questioning what sort of information comes out of Open Records requests from the media, you might want to review Seth Emerson’s chat from yesterday.
… Most of the time the FOIAs result in things like coaches’ contracts and salaries, non-conference scheduling news, NCAA secondary violations, etc. But there have been several other good stories that probably only saw the light of day via FOIA. There are too many to list, but one that jumps to mind is a few years ago when Chip discovered that Mark Richt had been paying some staff members out of his own pocket, because of Damon Evans’ perceived unwillingness to do so.
Maybe that doesn’t matter to you. Or maybe you think it’s a distraction that holds the athletic department back from achieving greatness. As a blogger trying to assess why the program succeeds or fails, I find that stuff of interest.
Read the whole thing. Seth probably spent more time discussing the topic than he wanted, but it sounds to me like there are Georgia fans trying to figure out why the change in the law matters. If you haven’t thought about it, maybe you should, too.