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MSU and ESPN could be headed to Michigan Supreme Court

September 16, 2015

A civil lawsuit between MSU and ESPN Inc. involving 301 student-athletes' crime records could be moving to Michigan's Supreme Court this month. 

In September 2014, ESPN filed a Freedom of Information Act to MSU for public police records that involved student-athletes as suspects, victims or witnesses. MSU provided the records, but the names of the athletes were redacted. ESPN then sued MSU in order to obtain the redacted information.

The records were requested as part of an Outside the Lines investigation that investigated police departments at 10 major universities to determine if student-athletes and students are prosecuted at the same rate.

In March, Judge Clinton Canady of the Ingham County Circuit Court ruled in favor of ESPN, saying that MSU must release the names of the suspects, according to the court opinion. However, the court allowed the names of the witnesses and victims to remain private due to privacy exceptions in the law. MSU then decided to appeal the lower court’s decision.

In August, The Court of Appeals affirmed Canady's decision noting that the disclosure of the names were necessary for the public's understanding of MSUPD's operations. 

MSU does not feel that the information should be available to media outlets until the individuals in question have actually been charged with a crime, university spokesman Jason Cody said.

MSU will now ask Michigan's Supreme Court to hear its appeal, Cody said. This will happen before the deadline on September 29th.

Cody remained adamant that the university believes the privacy of anyone who has interacted with the MSUPD should be kept private until there is an actual arrest made.

“We firmly believe that any member of the MSU community whether you're a faculty member, a chemistry major, a student athlete, a member of the marching band — unless you are charged with a crime your information shouldn’t be made public,” Cody said. “This has been our stance all along.”

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