SI goes after coaches’ ballots

Sports Illustrated will file open records requests with 51 schools in a quest to see every single ballot submitted in the USA Today Coaches’ Poll, Sports Illustrated’s Andy Staples writes. (via Get the Picture).

According to Staples, “We’re expecting to hear excuses as to why the ballots can’t be released. Some coaches may claim they file their ballot by phone, leaving no written record. Those who make that claim could be asked to recite their ballots, No. 1 through No. 25. If they can, they might be off the hook. But since we all know some coaches have sports information directors or operations directors fill out their ballots, chances are a written record exists for every ballot submission.”

This is an excellent point. Many coaches use their staff to handle this responsibility. This does raise an interesting question about the reach of open records law. If the coach votes at the office on his office computer, then the record should be public. However, if the coach votes from his home on a personal computer not owned by the state, then the record likely would not be considered public. Would we consider the work of a professor serving as president of a national historical society as subject to the open records requirement if the work was done away from the school? It will be interesting to see how this unfolds, and how many schools attempt to dodge supplying the requested documents.

Alabama will be getting the open records request since Alabama Crimson Tide football coach Nick Saban is a voter in this year’s poll. (The complete list of voters is available at USA Today’s website.) According to members of the press, UA takes forever to respond to open records requests. It will be fun to watch and see if SI gets a faster response.