Orlando Sentinel by Iliana Limon Romero
June 8, 2019
Florida State University is privatizing its athletics department, shielding it from public-records requests and treating it like a corporation rather than a traditional state university department.
The school touted the move as an opportunity to streamline the relationship between the athletics department and Seminoles Booster, Inc., the fundraising arm of the athletics department. The change alters a set-up that gave a booster group an unusually prominent role in fundraising for an athletic department, granting considerable power to a third-party group.
FSU’s board of trustees voted Friday to create Florida State University Athletics Association, a direct-support organization that will run the athletics department.
Seminole Boosters, Inc., signed a memorandum stating its chair will report to the FSU athletics director and the FSU AD will serve on several Seminole Boosters’ committees.
The University of Florida and University of Central Florida have long operated their athletics departments as direct-support organizations. FSU officials said they had discussed the move for years and saw it as a chance to make their relationship with Seminole Boosters clearer and more efficient.
The switch will also give FSU athletics all the privileges of a private corporation, including declining any public-records requests while still preserving its sovereign immunity. The immunity clause for state agencies caps any jury judgments or settlements reached by the athletics department at $200,000. Any further settlements would have to be approved by the state Legislature to avoid undue burden on taxpayers, a privilege not enjoyed by traditional corporations.