Friday, July 06, 2012

The Absense of Records is a Record

Today's post is brought to you by the letter P -- as in former football coaches who's last name starts with.

Most of us had a quiet Fourth, but all to festive at Arkansas, where the new coach's past finances became national news on July 4, and at Penn State where The Chronicle and others continue to peel back the records.

Where P & P come together again is in the area of digital communication.  Earlier in the week, lawyers for the late Joe Paterno contended that he didn't use email.

Well, today, oops about that.  The Chronicle contends that Joe Pa did send emails to the Penn State president related to the Sandusky matter.

It reminds me of Bobby Petrino's text to his video coordinator asking can they see my texts.

The answer to both remains the same advice for students, staff and all:  digital assets once posted are easily copied and easily distributed.

Today the standard for open records and state record keeping almost requires use of electronic mail.  If no emails surfaced at PSU, one would begin to wonder if they'd been deleted.

Could someone else -- an administrative assistant -- used the coach's account to send under his name?  Certainly.  I know many past and current coaches who don't check their own accounts and give that responsibility to a secretary or other staff member.  Another Big 10 situation echos that with a former assistant to Illinois president settling a dispute over anonymous emails.  The lawyers could maintain their position on Paterno not using email to communicate, but it's going to ring hollow.  Just because the secretary typed the memo on the IBM Selectric or an iPad in email, either way the administrator that signed it is responsible.

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