Perhaps Maryland Should Join the Atlantic "Sun" (of FGCU Fame): State Schools, Open Meetings Laws and Confidentiality Agreements
In the ever changing world of NCAA conference realignment, one school, the University of Maryland, forgot about its obligations under the “Sunshine Law.” Maryland’s flagship public university, like all public bodies, must comply with open meetings requirements. So, when Maryland’s Board of Regents met on November 18 and 19 of 2012 to discuss what would eventually become Maryland’s move to the Big Ten conference, it had to at least give notice of the fact that it was going to hold a closed session and perhaps even open portions of the meetings up to the general public. A Maryland administrative opinion roundly rejects the university’s reasons for falling short of the notice provisions in Maryland’s “Sunshine Law.” According to one Washington Post story, Maryland’s Big Ten contract is so confidential, it does not even possess a copy, which may pose more “Sunshine Law” issues.
The Maryland dust up raises an important issue regarding the balance of power between schools, conferences and the NCAA itself. On the one hand, powerful conferences and the NCAA have rules and regulations to protect its interests, on the other hand schools have policy in place to protect its interests. Those policies are not always harmonious. So, what should schools, conferences and the NCAA do? The new NCAA president, recognizing this issue, began to downshift the NCAA’s regulatory authority, or at least its activity. However, balancing power between local and centralized authorities poses age-old policy problems. In this city (Philadelphia), there were a couple of folks who had some ideas on the topic. Perhaps an NCAA Constitution could replace or at least complement its notoriously lengthy rule book starting with the phrase, “We the Student-Athletes of the National Collegiate Athletic Association…”