Illinois Supreme Court Rules IHSA Isn't Subject To Freedom Of Information Act Requests

May 19, 2017

The Illinois Supreme Court unanimously ruled that the Illinois High School Association has no obligation to release internal documents.  

The watchdog Better Government Association wanted to get records from the IHSA (which organizes high school athletic tournaments) on its sponsorship deals with the likes of Gatorade and Nike. To this end, it filed requests under the Freedom of Information Act, which  is supposed to make sure anyone can get documents, memos, and even emails from a government body. However, the court treats IHSA as a private non-profit organization.

Matt Topik, who represents the Better Government Association, highlighted a silver lining to the decision. He says a previous ruling held that FOIA laws only applied to things governments have to carry out.

“We argued that that was too restrictive of a test," he said, "because there are many things the government is authorized but not obligated to do, and the Supreme Court agreed.”

 The new ruling says FOIA requests can apply to functions of government. In other words, if governments outsource their responsibilities to private entities, they are subject to FOIA. Topik says the decision could help the BGA obtain records from a private organization that manages Chicago’s Navy Pier.​