Bill on governor’s desk would reverse ESPN vs. Notre Dame ruling

FILE - The University of Notre Dame (Photo Courtesy: John Hanlon)

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Police records involving student athletes at Notre Dame must be made public, according to an Indiana Appeals Court ruling.

It’s a ruling in favor of ESPN, but a new state law may protect Notre Dame in the future.

It’s not a state law yet, but a bill to permit private university police departments to withhold some investigative records from the public is now on the governor’s desk.

It has the backing of Notre Dame and the 10 other private universities that have their own police departments.

Butler University is one of them, and the university supports the bill.

Steve Key of the Hoosier State Press Association points out that normal police reports contain a narrative of events surrounding a crime or incident. A Notre Dame report lists only the incident, a possible crime and the disposition of the case.

It’s a practice that would continue if the bill is signed into law.

“What they’ve done is, with this legislation, is they were basically inoculating themselves from the potential adverse outcome of the ESPN vs. Notre Dame case,” Key said.

At a state Senate hearing last month, college leaders explained why they want to keep some records private.

“And we think it’s important for our institutions to be able to help young adults in many cases form in a way that is appropriate,” said Richard Ludwick of the Independent Colleges of Indiana, “without offering to them the same kind of public scrutiny that many of us as college students would not have wanted.”

The bill passed the General Assembly with only one lawmaker voting against it.

The governor is expected to sign it.

In the meantime, Notre Dame will appeal the ruling in the ESPN case to the state Supreme Court.

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