School ordered to release coach’s letter of reprimand
MICHIGAN–The privacy interests of University of Michigan basketball coach Steve Fisher do not outweigh the public’s interest in a letter of reprimand issued against Fisher by the university’s athletic department, Circuit Court Judge David Swartz ruled in mid- June in Ann Arbor.
Swartz ruled that the letter was not protected by a privacy exemption to the state open records law, and ordered the letter disclosed after reading it in chambers. He noted that Fisher’s privacy interests are diminished by his high public profile and that the public has a strong interest in the integrity of the university’s athletic program.
The Ann Arbor News learned that Fisher had been reprimanded in March for not reporting several incidents in which a basketball booster had offered goods and services to players on the Wolverine basketball team. In mid-May the newspaper asked the University for a copy of the reprimand letter and it refused to provide it, citing the privacy exemption to the open records law. The newspaper sued for the letter in Washtenaw County Circuit Court.
The reprimand ultimately delivered to the Ann Arbor News cited Fisher for not telling the school’s athletic director immediately about offers from a booster that could have constituted National Collegiate Athletic Association violations. The booster had offered an apartment to two players and airline tickets to the family of a player. The players did not accept the apartment and the family did not accept the tickets. (Herald Co. v. University of Michigan; Media Counsel: Jonathan Rowe, Ann Arbor)