Here's a few entertaining things about the attempt by the Georgia legislature to slow, if not completely bury, any attempts to FOIA Georgia athletics spending for public consumption. The first is the assumption that UGA already has trouble fulfilling its current workload re: information requests. We say this because when SB Nation made what we thought was a relatively simple FOIA request, UGA replied politely that a request of our scope would require somewhere around $18,000 in administrative fees. With this kind of money, the UGA athletics department could perhaps purchase a computer with which to search records. Just a proposal, and a gentle one at that.
*Just for contrast: Texas A&M once handed us every single mention of Johnny Manziel in their internal emails over the span of a year and a half for like, three hundred bucks.
The second entertaining part is that the athletics-specific exemption -- which again, isn't even the main bill, but a suspiciously late rider to the also-pretty-suspicious SB 323 -- is being argued as a way for athletic departments to do things without the immediate hassle of telling anyone what it's doing with its money.
Per its sponsor, Rep. Earl Ehrhart: (actually named Earl, not cartoonish invention of parody Southernism)
"It just allows us to play on the same field as Alabama and everybody else," he told the Telegraph.
That's an odd thing to say when Alabama has no such specific exemption in their open records law, and only requires return of a request after a "reasonable" amount of time. That could vary by say, 90 days, sure, but there's nothing built into even Alabama's law that says "you can't see this because we don't want the competition to know how much Kirby's spending on helicopters this year."
Look at it: that's a law someone is admittedly building into the state legal code to compete with Alabama. There is no existing framework for the degree of absolutely shook this is. Nick got y'all rewritin' laws to keep up with The Process. Nick got you corruptin' Freedom of Information Acts to keep up with the Process. Nick got y'all blackboxing Kirby's barbecue dinner receipts to keep up.*
None of this is law yet, of course. And it's not even just for UGA-- the bill would apply to all Georgia state university collegiate athletics programs. And yes, FOIA requests are an immense pain in the ass. (Not $18,000 worth of pain, but still). And the bill does still have to pass**, though if the bill's UGA alum supporters still using the Brian Schottenheimer offense, passing of any sort could be a significant problem.
*There is no way Alabama does not, in response, craft a specific law to store all Alabama athletic department budgets and communications in an abandoned mineshaft five thousand feet beneath the Alabama athletic department. Mike Dubose can watch over them, because he lives down there and is quite happy with the arrangement.
**Clarification: the bill has passed through both chambers to the Governor's desk, though he could in theory veto it.