NDSU Will Hide Behind Federal Privacy Laws In Disciplining Football Players
Earlier today I posted information obtained via an open records request indicating that NDSU players involved in petition fraud may be turning states evidence against the people that hired them. But that information really doesn’t change the culpability of the players involved, and most reasonable people would expect the university to hand down some sort of disciplinary action sooner rather than later.
But NDSU president Dean Bresciani is trying to obscure any accountability these players will face in a haze of legalese, hiding behind federal laws which Bresciani claims will prevent the university from disclosing any discipline actions.
FARGO – President Dean Bresciani admits there’s still some confusion about the complicated process of punishing students who break the law, even after he issued two statements in two days explaining how North Dakota State University is handling 10 football players accused of petition fraud.
But he said any student discipline would be an “educational process,” not a legal matter, which means it’s covered under federal student privacy laws and can’t be publicized.
This is ridiculous. Players at universities around the nation are routinely disciplined for misdeeds of varying levels of seriousness, and those details are routinely made public. But not at NDSU, apparently.
In an editorial for the Grand Forks Herald, Tom Dennis writes that the information about the discipline these players face should be made public:
…the school should take pains to announce any disciplinary actions. The football players are public figures: They play in the Fargodome, enjoy campus and even statewide celebrity and get four-year scholarships to boot.
But that means their missteps are the public’s business, too.
I’ve actually got an open records complaint against NDSU pending with Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem’s office which I filed after officials refused to disclose information about a situation between NDSU women’s athletics director Lynn Dorn and a student which resulted in the former being suspended for two weeks without pay. NDSU has used federal privacy laws as a justification for refusing to disclose the information (note: I requested information on the incident, not the student). I’m anxious to see what the ruling is, and what the implications may be for disclosure in this situation.Tags: dean bresciani, lynn dorn, ndsu bison, North Dakota News, north dakota state university, transparency