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Report says MU athletics misinterprets NCAA policies

Friday, June 26, 2009 | 11:15 a.m. CDT

 COLUMBIA—The Columbus Dispatch said that the University of Missouri, like other NCAA schools, misinterpreted privacy rules and violated NCAA terms by hiding public records.

However, MU said that it complied with the Dispatch's request and does keep all the records it should.

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As part of  a six-month investigation, the Columbus Dispatch found MU "refused to provide any information to protect privacy" involving the records of complimentary tickets for athletes, and "the school did not keep these records" about the athletes' summer employment.

"Whatever it states in the article is accurate," Jill Riepenhoff, the reporter for the Columbus Dispatch said.

But the MU Athletic Department keeps the complimentary ticket information for their record and review, but the individual information from each specific application is not typed into a larger database, said Marsha Moore, David Russell's executive assistant. Russell is the MU Chief of Staff and acts as the custodian of documents for the university.

"The institution is expected to give information but must respect the Sunshine law, FERPA and meet confidentiality of players," Russell said.

Therefore, when Riepenhoff contacted MU and requested the ticket information, the university was not able to provide the records unless compensated $300 to compile them into a more compatible form, and because of the cost, Riepenhoff directed MU not to do so, Moore said. These records would not have included athletes names.

Many major-college athletic departments, like MU's, removed athletes' names when submitting records using Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) as a rationale for athletes' privacy, according to the article.

The university was able to provide coaches complimentary ticket information, which is kept in a spread-sheet format, Russell said.

The U.S. Department of Education says ticket lists are public, not private education records because the NCAA has found that some athletes have been caught trying to sell their tickets to another party or brought questionable characters as guests.

For the summer employment records, according to Moore, MU keeps such records and was willing to send them to Rienpenhoff, with the names removed, but based on emails between Moore and Riepenhoff, Riepenhoff no longer wanted the records unless the names were present.

According to the Columbus Dispatch article, most universities athletes are required to submit paperwork with documents showing their summer employment information. Meanwhile, the U.S. Department of Education officials are unclear whether these documents constitute public or private record under federal law.

However, MU did provide team flight manifest and NCAA violations with a high level of openness, including all the proper information minus the names of the athletes withdrawn.

The investigation asked all 119 colleges in the Football Bowl Subdivision (formally known as Division I-A schools) for the athlete related documents, and of the 69 schools that responded: more than 80 percent released unedited information from ticket lists, half did not censor flight manifests and 20 percent gave full information about summer jobs held by football players, according to the article.

According to the article based on records kept by the university, MU has had four major infractions investigated by the NCAA since 1952.


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