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.

Starting LB C.J. Johnson reveals surgery on social media, Ole Miss confirms

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Ole Miss will be without a starting piece of its defensive puzzle for an extended period of time, both the player and the school revealed Tuesday.

With rumors swirling about his condition, C.J. Johnson confirmed on his personal Twitter account late this morning that he will be undergoing surgery at some point in the not-too-distant future.  The linebacker sustained an injury to his left knee in last Saturday’s loss to Florida and did not return to the contest.

Subsequent to that posting, Ole Miss confirmed that Johnson underwent surgery earlier in the day to repair a torn meniscus in his knee.  The procedure and rehab will sideline Johnson for a period of 4-6 weeks.

At the low-end of the prognosis, Johnson would miss the next four games — New Mexico State, Memphis, Texas A&M, Auburn — and return for the Nov. 7 game against Arkansas.  The high-end would have him sidelined until the regular-season finale against Mississippi State.

Johnson had started all five games at middle linebacker for the Rebels.  He started 26 games at defensive end the past three years before moving to linebacker.

Butch Jones labels rumor of ‘physical altercation’ with Vols player ‘absolutely ridiculous’

ATHENS, GA - SEPTEMBER 27:  Head coach Butch Jones of the Tennessee Volunteers yells at Marquez North #8 during the game against the Georgia Bulldogs at Sanford Stadium on September 27, 2014 in Athens, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
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Already in the crosshairs for his 2-3 team’s late-game failures, Butch Jones now finds himself under increasing scrutiny for something that allegedly happened a couple of months ago.

The website, which features such respected journalists Tony Barnhart and Mike Huguenin among others, reported earlier today that the Tennessee head coach was involved in what was described as a “physical altercation” with senior offensive lineman Mack Crowder during summer camp this past August.  The source close to the program added that practice film that day captured the alleged incident, although it’s unclear if that tapes still exists.

From the site’s report:

The incident occurred during fall camp, about the time that news started to come out about a few offensive linemen who were considering stepping away from the program. Crowder walked off the practice field one day and missed a day or two of practice, and Brett Kendrick and Dylan Wiesman were said to be contemplating their futures. Sources say the players’ actions stemmed from an incident between Jones and Crowder.

The website also made a Freedom of Information request seeking any correspondence between the university and the Crowder family be turned over, but writes that UT “administrators said any sort of letter or correspondence that may or may not have happened was covered under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act.”

Monday, Jones labeled what began as message-board speculation that he had struck one of his Vols players as “absolutely ridiculous.” The Knoxville News Sentinel contacted Crowder’s father, with the paper writing that “he had no comment and did not want to give validation to message boards.”

At least publicly, the university has yet to address the allegations.  Jones will get yet another chance to address the speculation with the media in the very near future.