UA Releases Mustain FOIA Documents

by Chris Bahn  on Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2007 10:01 am  

This story is from the archives of ArkansasSports360.com.

FAYETTEVILLE - The University of Arkansas turned over more than 1,000 pages of documents last week in response to a Freedom of Information Act request filed by the attorney representing former Arkansas quarterback Mitch Mustain.

Rogers attorney Timothy Hutchinson requested the documents on Oct. 24. He was seeking any information the university uncovered in its investigation of a harassing e-mail sent to Mustain by a booster on Dec. 7, 2006. Mustain, a graduate of nearby Springdale, spent his freshman season at Arkansas, but transferred in the spring to Southern California.

In addition to any documents pertaining to an e-mail sent from booster Teresa Prewett to Mustain, Hutchinson also sought "any and all records of any employee of the University of Arkansas which mentioned or referred to Mr. Mustain."

ArkansasSports360.com obtained 1,167 pages of records Tuesday through a FOIA request. Documents pertaining to Mustain's education records were released to Hutchinson, but were not released to Arkansas Sports 360. Records of that nature are protected by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).

Hutchinson declined comment on the release of those records Tuesday evening. What, if any, action will follow now that Mustain has the documents is unclear.

Included in what the university did turn over to ArkansasSports360.com was e-mail from Prewett's e-mail account to Broyles on the same day she e-mailed Mustain. Her e-mail to Broyles was much more civil in tone than her correspondence with Mustain, but did refer to the "child-like behavior" of Mustain, then-offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn and other team members from Springdale.

The e-mail to Broyles outlined Prewett's level of contributions to the athletic department. That, the e-mail said, granted "some small ‘right' to voice my opinion to you."

"... I come to you hoping you will hear my plea," the e-mail continued. "I have never seen such turmoil that has occurred over a group of athletes (Springdale kids), their parents, and Gus. The entire program has been affected because of this child-like behavior by all of them. Since when does a Division I program let a group of 18 year olds, their parents, and their former high school coach dictate what occurs on the field?"

"... You've created a monster with this Springdale mess, and we are going to be losing someone very special because of it. No amount of money is worth having to put up with a group of young men and their parents being able to dictate what occurs on the football field, and I know that no where else in this country does this occur."

Broyles did not respond personally, but his secretary, Donita Ritchie, did request Prewett’s phone number because “Coach Broyles’ wife Gen would like to have a chance to visit with you by phone. Could you let me know your phone number where she could reach you.”

Other documents released by the university included sports information department press releases that mentioned Mustain; e-mails of support and anger from fans to Coach Houston Nutt and Broyles; flight manifests for the Razorbacks' trip to Orlando for the Capital One Bowl; and correspondence written by Mustain's mother, Beck Campbell, to Nutt's wife, Diana, denying involvement in the spreading of rumors about Nutt's personal life.

There were few mentions of Mustain outside of sports information department documents. Many of those were e-mails aimed at promoting Mustain by setting up interviews, or nominating the quarterback for freshman all-American awards. Mustain was 8-0 as a starter.

Nutt did respond to a Sept. 12, 2006 e-mail from a fan regarding the quarterback situation. Nutt wrote, "Mitch has a lot to learn about SEC Defenses and is learning them - but it takes time."

Otherwise, there were no specific mentions of Mustain by Nutt.

This was the second FOIA request filed by Mustain since he received the e-mail from Prewett, a personal friend of the Nutt family. Mustain's initial request was filed March 14 and sought disclosure of office and cell phone records for Nutt, former running backs Coach Danny Nutt and Broyles. It also sought phone records for secretaries for Houston Nutt and Broyles.

Prewett's e-mail to Mustain, which began "Dear Mr. Interception King," set off a firestorm of controversy. It led to a lawsuit filed on behalf of John David Terry, a resident of Mount Ida, which sought judgment against university officials for their failure to investigate the matter.

Twice Washington County Circuit Judge Mark Lindsay threw out that lawsuit. Attorney Eddie Christian Jr. of Fort Smith has appealed it to the Arkansas Supreme Court.

 

 

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