Q&A: Public university’s TV deal


From the Ball State Daily News:

Q: I’m working to find information on the television deal between ESPN and the Mid-American Conference signed in August. In response to a public records request, Ball State University said they have no record of the contract. 

Should this information be public based on access laws? I assume that the information is proprietary for ESPN, but member schools should have some record of the contract. Or at the very least, something showing revenue from television deals in the athletic budgets, correct? 

A: I believe the MAC is similar to the NCAA and IHSAA, private entities that provide services to public schools. If that’s the case, then the MAC doesn’t fall under the scope of the state’s Access to Public Records Act. It can meet your request or deny it.

Ball State University, though, is a public agency and subject to Indiana access laws. The presumption is that records of public agencies are open to public inspection and copying. The burden is on the university to cite state law that either mandates or allows them to keep a record confidential.

I suggest you ask the uni­versity for a copy of the con­tract or correspondence between the university and MAC pertaining to television revenue.

You can also request to inspect the accounting records that would show receipt of checks or wire transfer of funds from MAC to the university. These accounting records are public documents.

Contact Steve Key, HSPA executive director and general counsel, with media law questions at skey@hspa.com or (317) 624-4427.