Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Coach Fran and HIPAA

Enough silliness, it is time to talk serious. Coach Fran has caused a serious stir with his high priced email list, much revolving around HIPAA violations. For you people outside of the medical profession, it is the set of rules regulating the release of medical and personal information. I was a student chaplain in a hospital and therefore required to learn the regulations and to be honest HIPAA is a paper tiger designed to make patients feel better. To null and void the HIPAA rules requires only a piece of paper with a signature that does not have to be witnessed. Though I do not know for sure as I was never a student athlete, I strongly suspect in the myriad of papers they have to sign is a HIPAA release form that allows them to release medical information. So, until we learn otherwise all the detractors screaming HIPAA violations ought to shut-up.

Now the question about rules violations with NCAA that is for the investigative committee to determine.

1 comment:

Eric said...

The only possible NCAA violation I have heard of to-date is that the name a potential recruit was once mentioned in the newsletter. And what was said about this one recruit is that he had decided to verbally commit to Michigan instead of Texas A&M.

In media reports the newsletter is always portrayed as being Coach Fran's... as if he conceived of it, wrote it, and put the proceeds in his own pocket... and I am not denying that he had ultimate responsibility. But from what I have read of the newsletter, it was written by Mike McKenzie, Fran's personal assistant; and it was comprised of information he picked up around the office. From the excerpts I have seen it looks to me like this was McKenzie's operation, and Coach Fran's involvement may have included a supervisory role. The contents of the newsletters were incredibly mundane and benign. $1,200 is more than I would be willing to pay, but it is not a lot of money for any football crazy, upper middle class booster. In my opinion the people getting it were paying a moderately large sum for the illusion of insider information.

I'm not defending the newsletter. It was a risk (as witnessed by the confidentiality agreement), and an unnecessary risk at that. But the controversy surrounding this revelation is far greater than it should be in proportion to the supposed infraction. At any given school there are a number of boosters who can pick up the phone any time day or night, call the coach directly, and get far more information than what was being divulged in this newsletter to these mid-level boosters. This wouldn't be a big deal with the two-percenters if the team hadn't been so thoroughly embarrassed by its performance against Miami.