UPDATED: Appeals court won't stop release of UNC athletic records


University says it will turn over the records





UPDATE 6/16:  The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has released hundreds of pages of athletic documents and media outlets are in the process of reviewing them.

The information released amounted to seven large PDFs and one stack of paper documents.

The News & Observer reported the records show 395 parking tickets were issued to as many as 11 football players, totaling more than $13,000.

Amanda Martin, counsel for the news organizations, said she could not confirm whether or not the information released by the university was complaint with the judge’s order though questions are arising.

“We are currently reviewing the parking tickets information. There are two concerns we have. First, the document was a database summary and not the tickets themselves,” Martin said Thursday morning.

Martin said she couldn’t confirm whether the parking ticket document is non-compliant because she doesn’t yet know it the state of North Carolina uses actual parking tickets and if those would be available under the public records request the plaintiffs filed.

The document released by the university on Thursday only lists the license plate, state, violation description, and amount related to a parking ticket — no names are listed.

A university spokeswoman, however, told the Observer that the school does not keep hard copies of the actual tickets and has released all the data fields it has.

NORTH CAROLINA — The North Carolina Court of Appeals decided Wednesday not to delay the court-ordered release of athletic records by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

The denial follows a May decision by Superior Court Judge Howard E. Manning finding that the records are not protected by federal student privacy law and ordering their release to the media.

The university appealed that decision, asking the appeals court to stay Manning’s order while it considered the case.

The records in question include the telephone records of university athletic department officials and parking tickets given to 11 student athletes. The public records requests were filed in the midst of an NCAA investigation into possible academic misconduct and improper relationships with agents by some of the school's football players.

Seven news organizations filed the original lawsuit after they were denied access to the records, including the student-run Daily Tar Heel.

UNC maintains that releasing the information would violate the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act and jeopardize the privacy of its students.

Wednesday’s court of appeals decision requires the university to release the records in accordance with Manning’s order. UNC, however, can still pursue an additional appeal at the state supreme court.

“Assuming the Supreme Court doesn’t intervene, I think the university now will have to wait to get a Court of Appeals opinion on the substance of the FERPA claim until a ‘regular’ appeal at the end of the case,” Amanda Martin, counsel for the Daily Tar Heel wrote in an email.

If the records are already released, however, it could make the appeal moot.

UNC representatives could not be reached for comment by press time.


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