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USG athletic departments get three month to reply to records requests

Photo from http://gov.georgia.gov/
Photo from http://gov.georgia.gov/
Photo from http://gov.georgia.gov/

On April 11, Gov. Nathan Deal signed Senate Bill 323 (SB 323) into law, which allows collegiate athletics offices 90 days to respond to public records requests.

Before SB 323, all collegiate offices had 3 days to respond to records requests. An added 87 days has stirred up controversy surrounding disclosure of information, raised concerns about the secrets of the recruiting process and affects accessibility to obtaining records.

According to UGA’s athletic director, Greg McGarity, the law is aimed at granting a time extension to the college sports recruitment process. He said the new law allows helps to facilitate the amount of incoming requests.

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“[Open records requests] are very lengthy and it takes a lot of time just to estimate the time and effort it takes for those people who are doing their regular job, not necessarily to stop everything to provide this information,” McGarity told the AJC. “It’s not like we have staff sitting idly by just to deal with it.”

The bill, was dubbed “The Kirby Law” after Kirby Smart, the University of Georgia’s new football coach who inspired it’s creation. Smart spoke with state legislators about the issue which linked him to the amendment, but said he should not receive any credit for SB 323.

“When I went over to the Capitol, I was asked what’s the difference in our program and some programs I’ve been at in the past,” Smart told The Telegraph. “That was the extent of my conversation with those guys about that. So for me to get the credit for that is a little bit misleading.”

Georgia State student Samantha Bierworth said athletic departments should be held responsible for everything they do, “from spending on projects to the blurred lines in recruitment.”

Contrarily, according to the AJC, advocates to the First Amendment, such as Hollie Manheimer, said the changes are “unprecedented.”

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Manheimer said it “shields contract terms, complaint letters from the NCAA, spending projects and more from the public eye.”

“No other public agency in Georgia is given 90 days to conduct business in secret,” she said.

According to The Telegraph, Georgia State Rep. Earl Ehrhart, R-Powder Springs, said ,”It just allows us to play on the same field as Alabama and everybody else,” referring to the bill allowing opportunities to help hide recruitment information.

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