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Florida Attorney General weighs in on NCAA documents dispute

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  1. Freedom of Information
Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum has stepped into the battle of the Florida news organizations against the National College Athletics…

Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum has stepped into the battle of the Florida news organizations against the National College Athletics Association and Florida State University over a records dispute, the Orlando Sentinel reported. McCollum filed a friend-of-the-court brief this week backing up the press in their claim that the university has tried to sidestep the state’s Sunshine Law.

"The sports issues are almost irrelevant," the Sentinel reported McCollum saying at a news conference Thursday. "This is a real test of application for our public records laws in the world of technology, and I don’t want private entities — be it the NCAA or some private corporation — to be able to find devices or mechanisms to try and skirt this law. We don’t think they should be allowed to get away with it."

A coalition of news organizations sued the NCAA in June over records posted on a secure Web site pertaining to FSU’s appeal of sanctions for an academic cheating scandal. The media groups allege the documents were transmitted electronically so as to avoid creating a document that would be public under the Sunshine Law.

The NCAA argues that because it is a private entity, it is not subject to the state’s open records laws. McCollum counters that because FSU utilized the NCAA documents, the law applies without exemption and the documents should be released. The final hearing is to be held later this month.