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2 Sports Bodies Can Keep Files, High Court Says

Associated Press

Ruling that the NCAA and the Southwest Conference are not government organizations, the Supreme Court today let stand a lower court finding that investigation files on Southern Methodist and other SWC schools need not be turned over to news organizations.

In a case sparked by a football recruiting scandal at SMU, the court upheld a U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals decision that the NCAA and SWC are not subject to the Texas Open Records Act. The appeals court had overturned a decision by another federal judge.

Because of NCAA sanctions against SMU, which is in Dallas, some Texas news organizations sought disclosure of files compiled by the NCAA. They also sought files compiled by the SWC, which includes four public universities.

‘73 State Law Invoked

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When the requests were denied, the news organizations sued, invoking the 1973 state law that requires “governmental bodies” receiving “public funds” generally to make public their internal documents.

A federal trial judge ruled that the state law applies to the NCAA and the Southwest Conference, and ordered that the sought-after documents be surrendered so it could be determined which should be made public. The U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals reversed that ruling last July 26.

The appeals court agreed that the NCAA and the SWC receive public funds, but it said they are not governmental bodies, defined as organizations “supported in whole or in part by public funds.”


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