NEW BRUNSWICK — All John Caroff wanted was to show his 13-year-old daughter, an aspiring football strategist, video of the Rutgers-Penn State football game on Dec. 5, 2020.
The Cedar Knolls resident wanted to show his daughter and family the “all 22” video from the game so they could analyze Rutgers’ 14.e direct loss to Penn State.
Video of all 22 captures the action from two cameras – one at the 50-yard line with a wide-angle lens to include all 22 players on the pitch and another behind the end zone focusing solely on formation of the line for each game.
Caroff believed that by studying the video, her daughter would “enhance her qualifications should she seek future employment with a college football team or within the media covering college football.”
Caroff therefore sent Rutgers, a public university, an Open Public Records Act (OPRA) request on January 22, 2021 requesting the video of the 22.
But Rutgers denied the request because the video is non-public proprietary information, available only to coaches and players and other teams in the Big Ten Conference on a reciprocal basis.
Caroff then went to Middlesex County Superior Court where Judge Alberto Rivas agreed with Rutgers.
Caroff then appealed Rivas’ decision to a higher court and this week a state appeals court agreed to Rivas denying the video to Caroff.
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“We think this is the right result,” said Dory Devlin, assistant vice president, college news and media relations at Rutgers. “The court’s decision speaks for itself.”
In its ruling, the state appeals court agreed with Rivas, saying the public release of the video would have a “negative impact” on Rutgers’ relationship with other Big Ten teams because the release of video would also mean that all videos received by the university. other Big Ten teams would also be public.
“How many schools would be willing to trade All-22 videos with Rutgers if, in doing so, they put their own All-22 videos in the public domain?” the court wrote in its 18-page decision.
If Rutgers was required to release the video under OPRA, the court ruled that any offers by Rutgers to share the video with Big Ten teams or non-conference opponents would have “no value” as other teams could use OPRA to obtain the video and be under no obligation to offer videos in return.
Rutgers would then have to bear the added cost of more scouting efforts, the court wrote, placing the university “at a competitive disadvantage.”
The OPRA also exempts from disclosure information that “would confer an advantage on competitors or bidders”.
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Mike Deak is a reporter for mycentraljersey.com. For unlimited access to her articles on Somerset and Hunterdon counties, please subscribe or activate your digital account