Kyle Veazey is good at what he does. An excellent beat-writer who can now add the title “author” to his bio after publishing Champions For Change recently. He proved his salt on the beat at both Mississippi State and Ole Miss, and at both places garnered the reputation as a FOI-savvy dude.
So many “journalists” are afraid to do what Kyle does it seems: lay his name and career on the line in the spirit of true enterprise journalism. In some ways, he’s old school. It seems far too many people in his business these days take the “you cover the presser, tow the company/university line, and collect your check on Friday” route. For writers that fall here, hey, times are tough. I understand. To each his own. Fake it ‘till you make it.
Meanwhile, there’s Kyle actually thinking about readers, consumers, subscribers first. If a publication’s columns are going to be behind a pay wall, then there’d better be some real motivation for Reader Matt to fork over $15/month, right?
Enough about Kyle.
What about the remaining 31 emails of the 85 sent to Ole Miss compliance after the now infamous Hugh Freeze tweet in the spring?
Fifty-four of those were given to Kyle per his request straight away, and they turned out to be mostly silly, largely hilarious, and a majority full of hot air. They were probably exactly what UM compliance thought they’d get while they were face-palming following their coach’s tweet. I can only imagine the laughter among Freeze and staff, compliance officials included, when reading some of the stuff that came through.
Yet, 31 emails were not released initially because the university was still looking into some of those claims. That’s what the NCAA requires and, after all, it’s the right thing to do. Here’s an excerpt of the explanation of the emails’ non-disclosure in a Clarion Ledger piece on the matter by John Talty:
The NCAA requires institutions to keep information confidential while the matters are being examined; those who sent the emails have a “reasonable expectation of privacy”; some or all of the emails are protected under applicable Mississippi tort law protecting privacy and prohibiting public disclosure of private facts; some of the emails were protected by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), which protects the privacy of student education records.
The university noted that disclosing certain emails could have a “chilling effect on future sources of information, thus frustrating our compliance and enforcement efforts.” A university spokesman didn’t respond to a request for further comment on the emails.
So what about these emails that nobody gets to see? Veazey followed up, got an answer but not the emails themselves. The answer from UM was they’d reviewed each, found no violations, the end.
However, conspiracy theorists everywhere are now wondering, why not just release the emails like the previous 54? What’s different about those?
I think, based on Ole Miss’ response to Kyle Veazey and to John Talty, the cloud of possible answers is easy to form:
1. The school is still looking into some of the claims. The idea that it’s all fin`, is just that: an idea.
2. Some of the emails probably contain some specifics that simply don’t belong in the hands of the general public, regardless of whether it’s eventually proven true or false. The name of a high school, a business, or even a town would start a firestorm of internet speculation and accusation. That wouldn’t be fair, especially to a student-athlete who may have done nothing wrong.
3. If a compliance department is doing their job, they must have sources. Just like a beat-writer or even a radio host, they must not “burn” their sources.
Those are just a few thoughts as to why the school has chosen not to release those 31 emails to Kyle Veazey.
In the overall scheme of NCAA enforcement these days, the ball is completely in the court of the school’s compliance department and the media members that care to cover them. The NCAA enforcement staff has fled Indianapolis in recent months one by one. With huge cases (Miami) and lawsuits (Pennsylvania) on the desk of the NCAA, even its own employees admit (anonymously) that now is as ripe a time for cheaters to run rampant as any time in history.
So, a school’s compliance department has two choices: 1) take the high road and police yourself the way you’re expected to, or 2) play hide-and-seek with a blind NCAA. The media is the third figure that plays a role, and guys like Kyle have to be extremely careful and responsible with what is published.
You have to trust that Ole Miss compliance is doing their job.
So for all the black-helicopter folks out there, maybe now is a good time to remind yourself of the old tried and true notion “treat others the way you want to be treated”, or better yet the words of Jesus, “love thy neighbor as thyself”.
Is that even possible in the Southeastern Conference?