From When Journalism Fails Sports reporters across the country reported on ESPN's new television and digital media contract with the Mid-American Conference (MAC). As the Columbus Dispatch reports, it's a 13-year contract worth more than $100 million with each university getting 670-grand a year.
What are the details of that contract? What do the universities have to do?
It's a secret.
That's right, the terms of a 13-year contract worth millions with public universities is secret. The chief operating officer of the MAC, Bob Gennarelli says he cannot provide a copy of the contract because it is "proprietary" and says all universities have signed "confidentiality agreements."
But confidentiality agreements do not trump public records law. Under Ohio law, all contracts with public agencies are public records and must be provided when requested. It's not legally permissible to circumvent the public records law by adding a confidentiality clause. One of my best students is currently asking the Kent State University Athletic Department for every contract Kent State has involving ESPN.
What are the details? What does the university have to do under the terms of the 13-year deal between ESPN and the MAC? Keep in mind, most university athletic departments lose millions of dollars every year. Is the new ESPN deal a good deal or a bad one for member universities? The only way to answer that is to review the details of the contract. Hopefully, my student reporter will have those soon. If not, he'll have an excellent story on sports budget secrecy at public universities.