Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Judge rules against UNC in N&O lawsuit

The University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill withheld documents that should have been provided to The News & Observer in response to an open-records lawsuit filed by a consortium of media groups led by The N&O and The Charlotte Observer against the university, Wake County Superior Court Judge Howard Manning ruled today.

In a memorandum regarding his decision, Manning wrote, "FERPA does not provide a student with an invisible cloak so that the student can remain hidden from public view while enrolled at UNC."

The university cited FERPA, the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, as justification for withholding phone records and parking tickets requested by The N&O.

Manning did rule that the identities of student tutors working with athletic teams are protected by FERPA. Lawyers for UNC provided the plaintiffs with a list of non-student tutors at the beginning of a hearing Friday.

Manning directed attorneys representing the media groups to prepare an order implementing his decision. The university will then have the right to appeal the order.

Still to be decided is one major area of the lawsuit, which is the request for all documents relating to investigations into the UNC football program. Manning and the lawyers for both sides agreed at Friday's hearing that it was necessary first to decide the three other areas of dispute -- phone records, parking tickets and tutor identities.

The N&O and Charlotte Observer, both McClatchy newspapers, joined in the suit with the DTH Media Corp., which publishes the UNC-CH student newspaper The Daily Tar Heel; News 14 Carolina, a cable TV station operated by Time Warner Entertainment-Advance/Newhouse Partnership; WTVD Television; Capitol Broadcasting; The Associated Press; and Media General Operations.

The suit names UNC-CH chancellor Holden Thorp, athletic director Dick Baddour, football coach Butch Davis and Jeff McCracken, head of the UNC-CH public safety department, as defendants.

-- Luke DeCock

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

Because we all know we're required to give the media any piece of information they ask for. I've never seen this law printed but it apparently exists.

Anonymous said...

Judge Manning will certainly have his UNC Alumni Card revoked and no longer welcome to any invites over to Paul Davis' house. The nerve of him, he was sworn to protect the righs of UNC Students, including athletes. What does the N&O need that information for other than to stir up some trouble on the Hill. We would have been better to have petitioned to have Dick Baddour's son handle this case. What is the world coming to?? Why can't everyone just forgive and forget this happened, how can Paul Davis keep up with 27,000 students that coerce or effect the FB players? NC State Fans are behind this, check into Judge Manning's Bank account for proof!

Anonymous said...

This ain't going to end up really nice. We might lose our coach and get the Death penalty, if what I hear has happened makes it to public knowledge.

Anonymous said...

This sucks, we almost got away with it, if not for those meddling kids, judges, N&O, and ABC'rs. I hate State and Dook!

Anonymous said...

Say it ain't so, Butch?? He says we got nothing to worry about, Trust in Butch!!

Anonymous said...

what? no complaints about "yet another article about UNC"? i thought everyone was sick and tired of UNC being front-and-center in the sports page!!!!

Anonymous said...

Ok I have a question why did not allow barrington Edwards to participate at his unc's pro day and I all of the guys who violated NCAA rules we able to??? Something is wrong at Unc !! I think being investigated by the NCAA is 10 times worst than violating a team rule that was never even disclosed to the public....and these are supposed to be learning institutions.....

Anonymous said...

...yeah, some parking tickets will be made public (that precedent has been set already) and redacted phone numbers will now be available.

That means that...uh...oh, wait, FERPA still is being interpreted in an incredibly broad fashion, and that nothing happened that was unexpected. Anyone who acts like this is some huge legal 'victory' is missing out on all the other court cases that have already covered this. Releasing tutors names was one battle, the documents pertaining to the investigation is the big battle, and I doubt all of those will be released in light of this ruling. If there is anything damaging *at all*, it will be in there somewhere.

As far as Barrington Edwards is concerned, that's the NFL lockout's fault. All potential free agents are not observable by team personnel, and therefore are barred from participating in pro days across the nation.

Anonymous said...

There must be some very damaging info within those documents. Is Thorp prepared to go to JAIL if he refuses to release the docs? Where is the UNC Board of Directors in all of this? Are they still more concerned with football recruiting than getting this mess cleared up?

Anonymous said...

combine a multi million dollar renovation to kenan with an investigation that continues to raise red flags and pick up steam and eventually someone is going to come out looking like an a##hole. once the hammer drops it will be C.Y.A. time in chapel hill. recruits will bail, coaches will get fired, and those brand new seats in kenan stadium wont be needed until the wolfpack comes to play on brokeback hill.

Tobin Vance said...

Heads did roll in the end. I'm still going to a bowl game this year. I've already got Belk Bowl tickets for this year. I'm looking forward to it.