Student-Athlete Educational Records? The Involvement of FERPA Within Recent NCAA Division I Academic Scandals
The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) was enacted in 1974 to protect the privacy of student academic records (FERPA, 2015). FERPA restricts the disclosure without consent of certain student records, files, documents, and other materials managed by educational institutions (U.S. Department of Education, 2004). Athletic departments have been criticized for expanding these rules to protect themselves in times of academic scandals (Escoffery, 2014; Riepenhoff & Jones, 2009; Salzwedel & Ericson, 2003). This study investigated the use of FERPA during two recent academic scandals involving Division I universities’ athletics programs: the University of North Carolina and the University of Notre Dame. Both universities were investigated for student-athlete academic dishonesty and employed different paths when disseminating information to the public demonstrating the ambiguous and inconsistent application of FERPA. Recommendations for universities faced with implementing FERPA to protect student records are included.