Basketball players’ parking tickets are not ‘education records’
MARYLAND–Parking tickets issued to members of the University of Maryland basketball team are not “education records” whose disclosure is forbidden under the federal Family Education Rights and Privacy Act, and the university must disclose them to the student newspaper, the Maryland Court of Appeals in Annapolis, the state’s highest court, ruled unanimously in early December.
The court wrote that the act, better known as the Buckley Amendment, was intended to keep secret only the aspects of a student’s educational life that relate to academic matters or status as a student. Congress did not, as the university had contended, prohibit disclosure of every record containing a student’s name, the court said.
Maryland point guard Duane Simpkins was sidelined for three games in February 1996 for borrowing $2,000 from a summer league coach to pay off part of the $8,000 in parking tickets he owed the University, according to reports from the National Collegiate Athletic Association. After Simpkins was sidelined, The Diamondback, the student newspaper, requested parking ticket records for other team players and the coach and sued the university for them in Circuit Court in Prince Georges County after the school denied the records.
That court ruled in February 1997 that the university had to disclose the records, but the school appealed. Several media organizations, including the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, filed a brief with the court supporting The Diamondback.
The state’s high court also rejected the university’s claims that records of parking tickets of basketball coach Gary Williams were “personnel” records exempt under the state’s open records law, and that ticket records of both players and coach were exempt as “financial” records. (Kirwin v. The Diamondback; Media Counsel: Elizabeth Kock, Washington, D.C.)