Big 12 joins Tech, asking AG to block release of communications post-TCU

Texas Tech quarterback Tyler Shough, left, eyes TCU linebacker Johnny Hodges during the Red Raiders' 34-24 loss on Nov. 5 in Fort Worth. Legal staff from Tech and the Big 12 have both asked state Attorney General Ken Paxton to block release of communications between Tech and TCU pertaining to the game. Tech coach Joey McGuire said his staff sent "close to 12" questions pertaining to rules and officiating to the conference office after the game.
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An attorney for the Big 12 on Wednesday asked Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton to block release of communications between Texas Tech and the Big 12 pertaining to the Red Raiders' Nov. 5 football game against TCU.

The Avalanche-Journal, in an open-records request sent to Tech on Nov. 8, asked for communications sent to or received from the Big 12 office by Tech athletics director Kirby Hocutt, deputy athletics director Tony Hernandez, coach Joey McGuire and football staff member Harrison Hanna between Nov. 4 and Nov. 8.

Jessica Presnall, Big 12 vice president for legal affairs and compliance, wrote in an email to Paxton what she termed "the substance of the documents" containing the exchanges in question. In a copy sent to the Avalanche-Journal, portions of Presnall's letter are redacted.

In subheads that are not redacted, Presnall made the case to Paxton for "Confidentiality of certain commercial information" under Texas Government Code §552.002(a), said, "The Big 12's marketplace interests are at risk" and that "Disclosing information poses a specific threat of actual harm." Each of the subheads is followed by blocks of redacted material.

In a routine, weekly process, Big 12 coaches are allowed to send questions and videos of plays to Big 12 coordinator of officials Greg Burks for discussion regarding rules, interpretations and whether plays were officiated correctly.

During his weekly press conference two days after TCU's 34-24 victory over the Red Raiders, McGuire said the number of plays or questions about rules interpretations his staff sent in for review was "close to 12," which he described as a higher number than usual.

The A-J's open-records request attempts to make those exchanges public.

The Texas Tech general counsel's office on Dec. 1 filed a request similar to the Big 12's, asking Paxton to issue a ruling under which the communications would be kept confidential. Tech contends the Big 12 is separate and apart from its member universities and not a governmental entity. The Big 12 is, Tech told Paxton, a third party whose "proprietary information" could be harmed by release of the communications.

Tech assistant general counsel Ryder F. Smith wrote that the requested records "are not 'public information' under Texas Government Code §552.002(a), and therefore should be withheld in their entirety."

This article originally appeared on Lubbock Avalanche-Journal: Big 12 joins Tech, asking AG to block release of communications pertaining to TCU game