Oregon Ducks Say No Text Messages in Response to FOI Request…

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In documents released by the University of Oregon today to OregonLive.com in response to media requests for information about the Ducks’ football recruiting, one notable item was missing: the text in 934 text messages.

Oregon’s Public Records Law, written in 1961, did not foresee a day when people would use mobile phones to conduct university business, let alone without uttering a word. So although the letter of the law requires UO and all other public agencies to keep records of all correspondence pertaining to their work, many do not save text messages.

Confusion reigns about whether and how to archive messages sent via text message, on Twitter and through Facebook, state archivist Mary Beth Herkert said. As a result, archivists advocated a bill in the Oregon Legislature that would broaden the definition of a public record and require public agencies to adopt written policies for retaining such records.

As revealed in media reports in March, in spring 2010, Oregon paid Houston-based recruiting consultant Willie Lyles $25,000 for a package of information and video highlights of players. The payment arrived a few weeks after highly-sought running back Lache Seastrunk signed with Oregon, raising the question of whether Lyles had steered Seastrunk or other players from Texas to the Ducks.

The Oregonian, among other media outlets, requested access to text messages between Oregon coaches coach Chip Kelly and running backs coach Gary Campbell, Lyles and his representatives from 2007 to March 4, 2011. But Oregon has no formal policy regarding the archiving of text messages, UO spokesman Phil Weiler said.

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