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Oregon working on new policy which may keep coaches' disciplinary records private

The University of Oregon is writing a new policy that could make coaches' disciplinary records inaccessible to the public under Freedom of Information Act laws.

According to The Register-Guard, the policy "explicitly says the personnel records of about 1,400 staff members, called 'officers of administration,' a classification that includes coaches, are to be treated like faculty personnel records and kept secret."

Pending the approval of university president Michael Schill, this policy would keep the public from knowing any kind of disciplinary action taken against a specific coach.

Currently, the university doesn't have to release these records, but an appeal can be put in to a judge to determine the public interest in these requests. If public interest is compelling enough, the university must produce the disciplinary records.

The Register-Guard requested the records of former co-offensive coordinator David Reaves, who was put on administrative leave (and later resigned) following a DUI arrest. Those requests were denied under ORS 352.226, which applies to faculty records, not those of officers of administration (which Reaves was).

The Register-Guard could appeal this decision to a judge who could determine whether or not it's within the public's interest to have these records. However, the new policy wouldn't allow for any kind of a review past the university's decision to not disclose.

The policy could face some friction in going up against ORS 192, which requires that even universities like Oregon, which are independent, would continue to adhere to the Oregon public records law.

Oregon spokesman Tobin Klinger told The Register-Guard that treating the officers of administration as faculty does "include strengthening the [OA] grievance policy; creating clear procedures for progressive discipline that are grounded in national best practices; requiring HR involvement before initiating layoffs; extending the re-employment pool period from six months to nine months; creating incentives for units across campus to hire from that re-employment pool; and having sick leave reinstated if within two years of re-employment with the university."

However, it would also keep the public without any kind of an appeals process when searching for disciplinary action taken against coaches.