INDIANA — Information related to the firingof former Indiana University basketball coach Bob Knight willremain private, a judge ruled Monday.
Special Judge Jane Spencer Craney decided the information soughtby The Indianapolis Star is exempt under the state’s open-recordslaw.
The Star sought two major records from the university:documents related to an investigation of allegations made by NeilReed, a former basketball player, and documents created by theIndiana University Police Department in an investigation of allegedcriminal conduct by Knight.
The issue stems from Knight’s firing in September 2000. Thenewspaper argued that information disclosed by the universityin news conferences leading to the firing negates its right toclaim those exemptions.
The university presented a summary of its findings in May,but refused to grant The Star access to additional notesfrom which the summary conclusion was drawn. Craney’s decisionsupported the action, ruling the university had no obligationto release any information beyond that Knight was fired. Documentssurrounding the firing could be considered as "deliberativematerials," which are exempt under state law. Because thedocuments also contain information about specific students, theymay be classified as "educational records" that mustbe kept private according to the Family Educational Rights andPrivacy Act.
The newspaper has 30 days to file an appeal in the case, TheIndianapolis Star v. Trustees of Indiana University, No. 53C04-0101-CP11 (Monroe Circuit Court, Nov. 5, 2001).
Indiana Public Access Counselor Anne Mullin O’Connor said despiteKnight’s elevated status as a public figure, the same privacylaws apply to his records.
"We don’t look at who the records are about; that’s notfair," O’ Connor said. "We would never give a differentanswer because it’s Bobby Knight."
Lucy Dalglish, executive director of the Reporters Committeefor Freedom of the Press, said that while the decision is consistentwith the law, it is unfortunate the information will not be released.
"Bob Knight was not your typical public figure,"Dalglish said. "We entrusted him with the lives of so manymen over the years and now we’ll never know what happened, whenit happened, or why it happened. The public expected and deservedmore."