ESPN files complaint against Ohio State over access to emails


Not only does Ohio State have NCAA issues with which to deal, the school now has a “minor” legal issue to contend with as well.

In a complaint filed Monday with the Ohio Supreme Court, ESPN is asking the court to compel Ohio State to release emails sent/received by OSU officials relating to the scandal that has plagued the football program over the past few months.  Specifically, ESPN is requesting the following in the complaint:

…a Writ of Mandamus ordering Ohio State to make available copies of all emails, letters and memos to and from Jim Tressel, Gordon Gee, Doug Archie, and/or Gene Smith with key word Sarniak since March 15, 2007, all documents and emails, letters and memos related to NCAA investigations prepared for and/or forwarded to the NCAA since 1/1/2010 related to an investigation of Jim Tressel, any and all emails or documents listing people officially barred from student-athlete pass lists (game tickets) since January 1, 2007, any report, email or other correspondence between the NCAA and Doug Archie or any other Ohio State athletic department official related to any violation (including secondary violation) of NCAA rules involving the football program, since January 1, 2005 …

The “Sarniak” the complaint refers to is Ted Sarniak, a businessman from former OSU quarterback Terrelle Pryor’s hometown of Jeanette, Pa.  Archie, the OSU compliance director, had previously described Sarniak as ” someone who Terrelle had reached out to for advice and guidance throughout his high-school and collegiate career.”

Sarniak was also previously identified as being the lone individual to receive emails from Tressel regarding potential NCAA violations committed by a handful of his players, including Pryor.  Those emails were not forwarded to anyone in a position of authority at the university and ultimately led to self-imposed sanctions for major violations as well as Tressel ultimately being compelled to step down as head coach.

In the complaint, ESPN contends that individuals employed by the company “made several written public records requests to Ohio State” regarding the the emails but were either denied based on Federal Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) concerns on the part of the school; the pending NCAA investigation, for which they provided no explanation for the legal authority the denial was based upon as required by law; or “summarily denied ESPN’s requests as overbroad, without citing legal authority for that denial, or providing ESPN with the opportunity to revise the request.”

ESPN is seeking “a judgment awarding attorney’s fees and court costs associated with bringing this action.”

ESPN concluded their “Memorandum in Support of Complaint for Writ of Mandamus” by writing that “[t]he events surrounding the Ohio State football program in this past year should sadden not only football fans, but anyone concerned with collegiate sports, academic integrity and accountability. But that sadness does not mean that the events should be secret. This court should join with courts from around the country in sending an unmistakable message to collegiate athletic departments – do not attempt to cover up your misdeeds behind FERPA and honor your obligations under the PRA. And it should do so by granting ESPN’s petition for a Writ of Mandamus.”

Ohio State has yet to respond to the complaint filed by ESPN.

Deposition: 20 women accused Seminole football players of sexual assault last nine years

Wake Forest v Florida State

In a deposition this past summer, the woman charged with running the office that deals with victims of, among other things, sexual violence on the Florida State campus claimed that 20 women were sexually assaulted by members of the Seminole football team over the past nine years.  The former director of FSU’s victim advocate program, Melissa Ashton, went on to claim that the accused football players received special treatment and that most of the alleged victims chose not to pursue student-conduct charges “a lot of times based on fear” of reprisals.

The June deposition is part of the ongoing lawsuit filed by Erica Kinsman, who had accused star quarterback Jameis Winston of raping her in December of 2012.  The first overall pick of the 2015 NFL draft was neither charged criminally nor found guilty in a student-conduct hearing.

The testimony of Ashton, who left her post in August of this year, was part of what was described as the release of heavily-redacted documents related to Kinsman’s lawsuit.  It’s argued in the Title IX suit that FSU did not properly investigate Kinsman’s claims against Winston as required by federal law.

Speaking of others who said they had been sexually assaulted at the school over the past nine years by football players, Ashton said the majority “chose not to go through a process, a lot of times based on fear.” Ashton said victims had “a fear of retaliation, seeing what has happened in other cases and not wanting that to be them.”

But in her statements she said she was concerned that athletes get preferential treatment during investigations of misconduct, including access to an athletic department official who helps them get access to outside lawyers.

In addition to the unnamed football players allegedly involved in an estimated 20 sexual assaults the past decade, “Ashton stated that… ‘easily double‘ that number have been involved in interpersonal violence.”

FSU officials had sought to block the release of the depositions, but were ordered by the judge in the case to hand them over in a ruling this past October.  The document release was prompted by a public records request from various news organizations, including the Associated Press.

Win over Grambling approved, Cal officially becomes bowl eligible

Jared Goff
Associated Press
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Earlier today we had the report that Cal, they of the normally bowl-eligible six wins on the season, were not actually bowl eligible. The hang up was due to some NCAA red tape on how many scholarships Grambling, a 73-14 victim to the Bears on opening Saturday, had actually awarded this year.

Why the number of scholarships awarded by an opponent of a 6-5 team could determine what glorified exhibition said 6-5 could or could not play is a matter for another time, but the fact is it mattered.

But according to a report from Kevin Gemmell of, the Bears received approval to count the win toward their total, meaning Sonny Dykes and company will go bowling for the first time since 2011.

“We have conferred with both Grambling and the NCAA,” Cal spokesman Wes Mallette told ESPN. “As anticipated, Grambling has confirmed their football program has met the 90 percent financial aid requirement over the rolling two-year average. Therefore, Cal football’s win over Grambling counts toward bowl eligibility. Cal football is bowl eligible.”

The Bears have a chance to become bowl eligible the old fashioned way with a win over Arizona State Saturday in Berkeley.


Tulane reportedly set to fire head coach Curtis Johnson

Curtis Johnson
Associated Press
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The end of the college football regular season brings with it bowl bids, conference championship entries and rivalry games. Along the way, though, come end-of-season firings. So many end of-season firings.

According to a report from Dan Wolken of USA Today Wednesday night, the first one is already on the books. Or at least close to it.

Wolken reports Tulane is set to part ways with head coach Curtis Johnson following the Green Wave’s Friday finale against Tulsa “barring a last-minute change of direction.”

Johnson is 15-33 in nearly four complete seasons at Tulane, reaching a high point of a 7-6 mark wtih a New Orleans Bowl appearance in 2013 but winning two, three and three games in his other three campaigns.

If and when the move becomes official, Tulane will become the 15th FBS school to change head coaches this season, matching the total number of changes during the 2014-15 cycle.

Wolken reports Tulane will hire a new athletics director within the next week, and once that hiring is complete the school will then embark on hiring Johnson’s replacement.

Reports: Michigan DC D.J. Durkin a “strong candidate” for Maryland vacancy

D.J. Durkin
Associated Press

Michigan defensive coordinator D.J. Durkin has emerged a “strong candidate” for the Maryland job, according to reports from Yahoo‘s Pat Forde and Fox Sports’ Bruce Feldman Wednesday.

“Durkin, 37, met recently with Maryland officials, sources said,” Forde wrote. “No job offer was made, but the interview went well, sources said.”

Added Feldman:

Durkin is in his first season as Michigan’s defensive coordinator, helping the 9-2 Wolverines jump from 14th to third nationally in yards per play allowed (4.77 to 4.15) and 27th to sixth in scoring defense (22.4 to 14.9).

Prior to working on Jim Harbaugh‘s staff, Durkin served as Will Muschamp‘s defensive coordinator at Florida for two years, and as his special teams coordinator for two years before that. He previously worked at Stanford, Bowling Green (his alma mater) and Notre Dame.

Should he be offered and accept the job, Durkin would immediately become Big Ten East rivals with his mentor Harbaugh.

“This week is so important to our guys, my 100% focus is on this game and our players — that’s what this profession is all about. You’ve got to make sure you’re taking care of the job you have week in and week out. It’s a tough task, especially with this team we have this week,” Durkin told the Detroit Free Press when asked about the reports.

“My goal is to get the best game plan possible together for Ohio State and have our guys go play well. To answer rumors or speculation right now and put something to it, my total focus is 100% on Ohio State and nothing else.”