Sunday, May 4, 2003

Court: newspaper may be entitled to Knight records

By Mike Smith
The Associated Press

INDIANAPOLIS - The Indianapolis Star might be entitled to some of the information contained within Indiana University records related to Bob Knight's firing, the state Court of Appeals ruled Friday.

But the court said IU did not have to disclose records of a campus police investigation into a student's run-in with Knight that contributed to the basketball coach's dismissal in September 2001.

Friday's decision involves a judge's ruling in November 2002 that said IU did not have to release various records related to Knight's firing. That ruling stemmed from a lawsuit by the Star against the IU Board of Trustees seeking access to the records.

The lawsuit seeks records generated by the trustees, campus police and others during their investigation into Knight's conduct, including accusations that he once grabbed a player's throat during practice.

The accusations and subsequent investigation prompted university officials to impose a zero-tolerance conduct policy on Knight. He was later fired after an IU student said the coach had twisted his arm and admonished him after he greeted Knight by his last name.

Knight was hired at Texas Tech in 2002.

IU cited both federal law and state exemptions to open records laws in refusing to release the records.

The Star appealed the judge's ruling to the Court of Appeals. The Hoosier State Press Association Foundation filed a brief in support of the appeal, saying the public had a right to know the details behind Knight's firing by a state-supported university.

In its ruling Friday, the appeals court said the campus police records were investigatory in nature and trustees had lawful discretion not to disclose them.

It asked the trial-court judge to decide whether two trustees who conducted an investigation into Knight's conduct were acting as attorneys for the university when they did so. If the judge decides they were, records of their probe might be considered non-disclosable attorney work product, the court said.

Barring that, the court said any factual information contained in those materials should be made available to the Star.

The appeals court asked the judge to review the records and redact portions that contain identifiable student information, expressions of opinion or speculation. But it said the remaining information should be disclosed.

A message seeking comment was left at the office of Kevin Betz, an attorney who has handled the case for the Star. A message also was left at the office of IU spokeswoman Jane Jankowski.

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