- The Washington Times - Monday, June 15, 2009

TALLAHASSEE, FLA. (AP) - The Associated Press and other Florida news organizations sued the NCAA and Florida State University on Monday, charging they schemed to violate open government laws by not making correspondence public about an academic cheating scandal at the school.

“This action concerns a scheme created to avoid public access,” the 21-page lawsuit said. “The scheme developed by the NCAA and aided by FSU and its counsel is particularly insidious to Florida’s constitutional and statuory guarantee of access to public records.”

The dispute is over a response the NCAA gave Florida State on its appeal of sanctions resulting from an academic cheating scandal. The school would be stripped of wins in 10 sports, including football. That would seriously hurt Bobby Bowden’s bid to become college football’s all-time winningest coach.

Florida State President T.K. Wetherell said he wouldn’t be doing his job if the school didn’t get sued occasionally.

“I’m in the crossfire,” added Wetherell, who is also named as a defendant in his capacity as president.

“The NCAA will reserve comment regarding this lawsuit until we have received and had a chance to review it,” NCAA spokeswoman Stacey Osburn said Monday. “As customary with NCAA processes, the outcome of Florida State University’s appeal will be made public once the decision is rendered by the NCAA Division I Infractions Appeals Committee.”

The lawsuit filed in Leon County circuit court names attorneys of the GrayRobinson law firm, representing Florida State in the appeal of the NCAA sanctions, will represent the university in the open-records matter.

“We look forward to the resolution of this lawsuit and hope it will lead to complete compliance with the public’s right to know,” said Betty Steffens, the university’s general counsel.

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