NCAA: Schools require confidentiality

The NCAA is defending the secrecy of its response to the University of Memphis' appeal, saying member schools require confidentiality before a ruling.

Memphis has refused to release the NCAA's response to its appeal of a ruling vacating the 2007-08 men's basketball season under an open records request. Memphis cites NCAA rules that prohibit printing the document for media off the association's Web site.

A NCAA spokeswoman told The Associated Press on Thursday the association is required to keep infractions case information confidential until a decision is publicly announced.

"In order to do this, and maintain the integrity of the enforcement process, there is no ability for a member school to print, save or download the information contained on the secure web site," Stacey Osburn, the NCAA's associate director for public and media relations, said in an e-mail.

This isn't the final stage in Memphis' appeal.

But that NCAA argument didn't work in Florida last month. The NCAA tried to keep its response to Florida State's appeal of an academic cheating penalty secret on the same read-only, secure Web site, but a judge ruled that document had to be released.

The Florida Supreme Court rejected an emergency motion Oct. 27 by the NCAA to delay that court order to release records. Attorneys for the NCAA provided the records to a law firm to prepare for a release, though Florida State released copies earlier in October from "screen shots" of the documents from the secure, read-only Web site.

Memphis is arguing that the NCAA Committee on Infractions imposed unprecedented penalties and used improper reasoning to wipe out the Tigers' 38 wins in a season that ended with an overtime loss to Kansas in the national championship.

The school's 45-page brief targets the so-called "strict liability" standard imposed after the NCAA ruled a player believed to be Derrick Rose was retroactively ineligible because of an SAT score that was invalidated by the Educational Testing Service in May 2008.

Memphis filed a brief supporting its appeal Oct. 8, and the NCAA's Infractions Appeals Committee had 30 days to respond. Now both Memphis and the NCAA's enforcement staff have a chance to comment. Memphis will get the last chance to respond before the appeal hearing before the committee.

A copy of that appeal was obtained under Tennessee's open records law. The university has complied with all previous records request involving this case.