A Matter of Privacy Or Not? - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

3/13/03

A Matter of Privacy Or Not?

The two page document contains personal information about former basketball player, Nick Valdez, who quit the team last month. Now, an investigation by Texas Tech. Was Valdez's privacy rights violated? If so, then someone has broken a federal law, called the Buckley Amendment.

Six years ago, a University of Texas basketball player won a civil rights settlement when information about him got out. His attorney proved clearly a violation of the Buckley Amendment.

You may remember U.T. freshman basketball player, Luke Axtell. Axtell's family sued the University when Axtell's Assistant Head Coach, Eddie Oran, faxed Axtell's grades to an Austin radio station where his grades were read on-air. That was a violation of the Buckley Amendment when Axtell's private academic records were revealed to the public. NBC in Austin reported that Axtell won a disclosed amount of money.

The situation at Texas Tech, involving former basketball player Nick Valdez, could be similar. Coach Bob Knight requested personal information about Valdez's academic performance and that information somehow got into the hands of businessman Gary Lawrence. A source says Lawrence passed the documents out last week during a meeting with several businessmen.

No one knows how the information got out, not even Coach Knight. "This list, the thing got out, I'm not sure why or how that it did. And that was not our intent and certainly not in that way or at that time. But I've talked to a very, very prominent attorney who's extremely familiar with the Buckley Amendment and said there's not one single thing in this that involves the Buckley Act in any way," said Coach Knight during a news conference on Wednesday.

"We regret it got out. I don't think anyone wanted to cause any harm to Nick Valdez," said Athletic Director, Gerald Myers. We tried contacting other major players in this ordeal. Gary Lawrence never called us back. Nick Valdez's number seems to not be working at all. So far, Valdez has not filed a civil right's lawsuit in the county or federal courthouse. We asked a Lubbock attorney if Valdez has a case here. He told us, in his opinion, and I quote, "The document should have never been disseminated to anyone."

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