Miss. schools and their openness

As far as Mississippi Division 1 schools, Mississippi State University wanted to charge $352.88, which the Dispatch would not pay so it is not clear how much MSU would or would not reveal. MSU has recently started redacting names of current student athletes in records requests from The Clarion-Ledger.

The University of Mississippi was listed as refusing to provide information on tickets and flights, but the university disputed that, saying it would have been willing to release names excluding student names.

The University of Southern Mississippi was the most open, but didn’t provide summer job information, which the NCAA no longer requires to be kept. USM redacted names of athletes.

Much of the funding of athletic programs in Mississippi remains a mystery because funding comes from quasi-private foundations created to fund athletics. Such foundation activity is open public record in some other states.

The problems of charging for records goes much further than the $352.88 MSU wanted for sports records. It is an overall public record issue for Mississippi. Some Mississippi officials, including Gov. Haley Barbour, have used questionable and arbitrary charges to hinder access to information.

Mississippi needs laws or guidelines preventing exorbitant fees for public records. Quasi-public organizations – sports and otherwise – that fund public activities should be open.

College sports not only brings entertainment, but support and funding to universities. It is important that there be openness. The federal privacy laws should be clarified to open sports records.

Clarion-Ledger
7/13/9