The University has released phone records and records of parking tickets sought by media outlets as part of the investigation of the football program after the N.C. Court of Appeals ruled against UNC’s desires to keep the records private.
UNC informed a lawyer for the plaintiffs on Wednesday that the records would be available after the court upheld an April ruling in Superior Court in Wake County.
The University had appealed, citing the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, or FERPA, in protecting the records. Superior Court Judge Howard Manning Jr. ’65 wrote in a memo: “FERPA does not provide a student with an invisible cloak so that the student can remain hidden from public view while enrolled at UNC. The telephone number is not part of the education record protected by FERPA.” His memo said parking ticket records also were not among education records protected by FERPA.
Chancellor Holden Thorp ’86 argued: “Our responsibility is to protect the privacy rights of all of our students, whether they’re on the football team, in the marching band or in a chemistry 101 class. So this is really not about the football investigation. If this ruling were to stand, it would put the privacy rights of all of our students at risk.”
Thorp said UNC already had provided more than 23,000 pages of documents to the media groups.
The media groups asked for:
Manning ruled that UNC did not have to release names of tutors in its athletics department.
The records suit was filed in October by The News & Observer of Raleigh, The Charlotte Observer, The Daily Tar Heel and several broadcast organizations.
The investigation into the Carolina football program, involving improper player contacts with professional sports agents and other outsiders and academic misconduct, is in its 11th month. The University is waiting to learn whether it will receive sanctions from the NCAA.