Information requests to UT spiked after NCAA probe

There was a point last year where the University of Tennessee athletic department didn't receive a single public records request for more than four months.

In September 2010 alone, the month in which it was revealed that former men's basketball coach Bruce Pearl and his assistants misled NCAA investigators and the football and baseball programs were also in the association's crosshairs for potential violations, UT fielded 11.

It was only the beginning.

Media outlets from all across the country had circled their target and pounced, looking for any sort of public document that would shed light on what exactly transpired in the 17 months before Pearl's emotional press conference.

Since that press conference, which was hastily called on Sept. 10, the UT athletic department had fielded at least 63 public records requests.

Included in that total is the records request filed by the News Sentinel to obtain a log of public records requests processed by the university since 2010.

Of the 63 filed since Sept. 10, 21 came from the News Sentinel, while others came from a variety of TV stations, websites and newspapers scattered across the U.S.

According to Tennessee Code, "records" are defined as "all documents, papers, letters, maps, books, photographs, microfilms, electronic data processing files and output, films, sound recordings, or other material, regardless of physical form or characteristics made or received pursuant to law or ordinance or in connection with the transaction of official business of any governmental agency.

Because UT is a government-funded, state university, it is required to comply to the Tennessee Public Records Act or risk legal action.

Under the Public Records Act, the university is required to "promptly make available for inspection any public record not specifically exempt from disclosure."

Because the vast majority of public records requests are not able to be processed on the spot, the university is afforded seven business days to either make the information available, deny the request with proper reasoning or "furnish the requestor a completed records request response . . . stating the time reasonably necessary to produce such record or information."

Nearly all of the requests filed since Sept. 10 were first handled with a records request response letter.

At that stage, the times of completed requests range from days to weeks or even months.

A number of the requests fizzled away after the initial response letter because the university, for requests that require heavy redaction, necessitate hours of legwork to put together or require hundreds of pages to satisfy, was within its rights to charge fees that climb into the hundreds of dollars.

To acquire more than a year's worth of invoices from UT's NCAA investigation legal team, the News Sentinel paid $166.11.

The cost stemmed from the nearly four hours it took one employee to compile and properly redact the 204 pages worth of documents.

The employee's hourly rate was set at $43.27.

Universities frequently cite the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) when redacting documents to a point in which the context is illegible.

In February, when it released the Notice of Allegations it received from the NCAA for allegedly committing 12 major violations, UT was heavy-handed with the Sharpie, covering up entire sections and even smudging out NCAA bylaws that were allegedly violated.

Two weeks later, after a flurry of requests from a number of media outlets, the university released a new version of the Notice of Allegations that featured 19 modifications from the original document, but only provided a minimal increase of insight.

To comply with FERPA, the university covers up names of currently-enrolled students, UT spokesman Jimmy Stanton said.

There was another common reason why a number of records requests came up dry: the document requested simply didn't exist.

Shortly after Cuonzo Martin was named the new UT men's basketball coach, multiple news outlets requested his contract.

At that time, only terms and conditions of Martin's five-year deal were made available, and it wasn't until May when the university released his Memorandum of Understanding, which provides the basic framework of the contract, but doesn't hit every last detail.

Out-of-state requests also came with a few hurdles because proof of residency in the state of Tennessee is required to acquire public documents.

After receiving a letter of explanation from UT, some non-Tennessee residents found a friend or associate to request the document on his or her behalf.

Others simply gave up.

Andrew Gribble may be reached at 865-342-6327.Follow him at http://twitter.com/Andrew_Gribble and http://blogs.knoxnews.com/gribble.

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Comments » 29

Mtnbiker writes:

slow news day..

jdcdjc writes:

Any responce you get on this article would probably be negative towards KNS.

eVOLved writes:

Joe Rogan calls cutting weight a "sport within a sport" for MMA "wrasslin." Now it seems recruiting is the "sport within a sport" for NCAA athletics. I trust Coach Dooley, and I'm hopeful Coach Martin will not do to UT what Kiffin and Pearl did.

carbonzip writes:

Bruce Pearl misled investigators. Really? Dust off a Pulitzer for this gem.

eVOLved writes:

in response to carbonzip:

Bruce Pearl misled investigators. Really? Dust off a Pulitzer for this gem.

whatever, hater. Troll, perhaps, if the shoe fits. I'm happy to read what the hardworking, prolific Gribble posts. It's not exactaly football season, so maybe try to enjoy reading about the Vols?

VolNExile writes:

Wow, $43-something an hour is the equivalent of $86K or so a year.

I want a clerical job at UT!

cloudodust writes:

An old saying defines the afore mention of the word 'promptly' in this article : An emergency on your part does not necessarily constitute one on mine.

thetrollhunter writes:

in response to slaw_way:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

"The employee's hourly rate was set at $43.27"

orangegrass writes:

And the purpose of this article is...?????

hueypilot writes:

The employee has benefits. The employee takes up space in a building that cost money, works at a desk with equipment that has to be purchased, maintained, cleaned and have electricity and climate control supplied. The employee has supervision, and that employee has supervision. Doesn't seem out of line at all when you consider the total cost of the employee, not just the employees's hourly wage rate plus benefits.

dvols writes:

in response to Mtnbiker:

slow news day..

just the state of UT football....

trollhunter writes:

in response to Witch_Doctors_Daddy:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

And when you don't heed the warning to leave this site, your fate will be met

trollhunter writes:

in response to Witch_Doctors_Daddy:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

And when you don't heed the warning to leave this site, your fate will be met!

PEYDAY writes:

in response to VolNExile:

Wow, $43-something an hour is the equivalent of $86K or so a year.

I want a clerical job at UT!

Just show up for the first day then quit, UTAD will then pay you for three more years because that's the new trend. Then Jimmy Cheek will contract Parker and pay them another $90K to fill your open position of which no one will want so they'll wind up having to hire a high school switchboard operator with no Division 1 clerical experience. Then Jimmy will come out and say that the new hire is an up and coming office professional that we were lucky to get.

PEYDAY writes:

in response to slaw_way:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

read the article again tartar, the hourly rate was $43 and some change.

volwr88 writes:

Agree. What was the purpose of the article. Shunt be a surprise that the total cost os a clerical person to research and/or redact is $43.00. Glad to see a government entity actually charging private sector for something instead of doing it for free.

trollhunter writes:

in response to Witch_Doctors_Daddy:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

When you LEAST expect it!

trollhunter writes:

in response to CantStandSaban:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Your betrayal and your alliance to the trolls is your ULTIMATE DOWNFALL! Posters like you need to be BANNED, with your IP address blocked from this site, since you disrupt nearly every single thread. Your bitterness and your negas is no need here. Your HUGE mistake is revealing who you really are-VOLALUM03ISBACK. Now leave this site now and may this fanbase move forward.

Witch_Doctors writes:

in response to CantStandSaban:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Witch Doctor say posting to yourself again? Witch Doctor say thats classic!
Bones never lie.

Vol43 writes:

in response to CantStandSaban:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Eat my shorts CSS. You suck more now than ever. And you stink, too.

VolAlum03ISBACK (Inactive) writes:

in response to Mtnbiker:

slow news day..

That's the truth. Sometimes I think KNS writes stuff in order to justify their existence.

VolAlum03ISBACK (Inactive) writes:

in response to trollhunter:

Your betrayal and your alliance to the trolls is your ULTIMATE DOWNFALL! Posters like you need to be BANNED, with your IP address blocked from this site, since you disrupt nearly every single thread. Your bitterness and your negas is no need here. Your HUGE mistake is revealing who you really are-VOLALUM03ISBACK. Now leave this site now and may this fanbase move forward.

Idiot. Why would CSS create a different username? He has never concealed his dislike of the Vols or Dooley. He hasn't stopped posting. He criticizes your impotent threats. What advantage does he get by creating a new username?

If you want to threaten posters, contribute nothing to the discussion, and generally be an annoyance...that's fine, but for the love of God, stop saying that CSS and I are the same people.

Hopefully the KNS staff will ban you.

voloffaith writes:

in response to trollhunter:

Your betrayal and your alliance to the trolls is your ULTIMATE DOWNFALL! Posters like you need to be BANNED, with your IP address blocked from this site, since you disrupt nearly every single thread. Your bitterness and your negas is no need here. Your HUGE mistake is revealing who you really are-VOLALUM03ISBACK. Now leave this site now and may this fanbase move forward.

Hate to say this ,but trollhunter you are starting to become like them in the fact that your posts are OFF TOPIC and offer no relevant content. Post to the article and raise the level ,not move down to them. Just a thought that will make the site less of soap opera.

On topic, yawn on this as a filler article for the days news.

trollhunter writes:

in response to VolAlum03ISBACK:

Idiot. Why would CSS create a different username? He has never concealed his dislike of the Vols or Dooley. He hasn't stopped posting. He criticizes your impotent threats. What advantage does he get by creating a new username?

If you want to threaten posters, contribute nothing to the discussion, and generally be an annoyance...that's fine, but for the love of God, stop saying that CSS and I are the same people.

Hopefully the KNS staff will ban you.

STOP PLAYING AROUND CSS BECAUSE YOU ARE HIM!!!!!!!! YOU ARE ONE THE SAME EXACT PERSON

trollhunter writes:

FANS REMEMBER,

CSS AND VOLALUM03IS BACK ARE THE SAME PERSON!!! HE JUST DECIDED TO SWITCH HIS USERNAMES AND PLAY AS IT IS TWO DIFFERENT PEOPLE.

WE NEED TO RUN THESE TROLLS OFF BECAUSE THE KNS STAFF CAN'T DO SHOOT TO KEEP THEM FROM COMING BACK. THEY CAN'T BAN THEIR IP'S. IF THERE WAS AN IGNORE BUTTON THEN THESE WOULD BE AN EASY READ SITE.

Vol43 writes:

wow

trollhunter writes:

in response to voloffaith:

Hate to say this ,but trollhunter you are starting to become like them in the fact that your posts are OFF TOPIC and offer no relevant content. Post to the article and raise the level ,not move down to them. Just a thought that will make the site less of soap opera.

On topic, yawn on this as a filler article for the days news.

We need to get rid of these people. The staff can't do squat and we need volunteers to rid off them so these threads don't get off-topic.

Don't worry, I know a site where you can talk VOLS without the trolls because they will automatically get BANNED with their IP addresses blocked.

easleychuck writes:

And at the end of the day, Bruce Pearl lied about who attended a cookout. And the Auburns, Oregons, etc. of the the world go about their merry ways of buying players.

BigBadVol writes:

in response to easleychuck:

And at the end of the day, Bruce Pearl lied about who attended a cookout. And the Auburns, Oregons, etc. of the the world go about their merry ways of buying players.

Summed up very nicely.

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