UK accused of violating open records law over request tied to football coaches

UK accused of violating open records law over request tied to football coaches
Published: Oct. 17, 2022 at 5:24 PM EDT
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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron says the University of Kentucky violated the open records act when it demanded that a requester narrow the scope of their search.

“It’s a strong endorsement of the public’s right to know what its agencies are doing. The opinion strongly rebuked the university for ignoring part of the request, which sought not only e-mails that talked about the university but also all relevant text messages and Twitter posts,” said Michael Abate, Outside General Counsel to the Kentucky Press Association.

The open records request was filed with UK on September 7. The same day head coach Mark Stoops retweeted Kelly Craft’s campaign for governor announcement on his official UK Football Twitter account.

The request sought copies of e-mails, text messages, and tweets between the head football coach, associate head coach, and two private individuals.

The university responded that the request was “too broad” and “unclear from the request, exactly what records were sought.”

The Attorney General disagreed, saying an agency that receives a request has to respond within five days.

In this case, the university didn’t deny the request but only responded to portions of the request, which would violate the open records act. Abate says it’s another instance of the university interfering with the public’s right to access information.

“It was just last year the university was on the receiving end of a stinging rebuke by the Kentucky Supreme Court in a case where the university tried to use educational privacy statutes to impede the public from understanding severe allegations of misconduct against university employees who were accused of misconduct with students,” said Abate.

UK has 30 days to appeal in circuit court. A university spokesperson says they were still reviewing the ruling and says they are committed to transparency on these matters.

We did reach out to Attorney General Cameron for comment but were told he was unavailable.