Board of Regents of the Regency University System v. Reynard is a 1997 decision of the Illinois Appellate Court, Fourth District.
The decision held that whether or not an agency in Illinois should be considered to fall under the definition of "public body" in the Illinois Freedom of Information Act is based on organizational structure.
The appeals court also agreed with a lower trial court that the Athletic Council that was under the supervision of the Academic Senate of Illinois State University was a public body, as defined in the Illinois FOIA.
Illinois State University (ISU) set up an Athletic Council. On March 22 and April 26, 1995, the Athletic Council held meetings about whether to eliminate the men's wrestling and soccer programs at ISU.
Charles Reynard was at that time the McLean County State's Attorney. He told the Board of Regents that the Illinois FOIA applied to meetings of the Athletic Council. Reynard also threatened to criminally prosecute the Board for violating the Act. The Board of Regents then filed a lawsuit, seeking a declaratory judgement from the courts that Reynard was wrong about that.
During an investigation by Reynard, the Board of Regents gave Reynard a transcript of the March 22, 1995 Athletic Council meeting. The Peoria Journal-Star heard about this, a filed a FOIA askveing for a copy of that transcript. That request was denied. So was a request filed by Twin-Cities Broadcasting Corporation, WJBC-WBNQ Radio.
At a trial on June 5 and 12, 1996, Cohen, an ISU professor of history, testified about the governing structure of ISU and the role of the Athletic Council. According to his testimony:
- The Illinois General Assembly created the Board.
- The Illinois Academic Senate is the primary body determining educational policy at ISU.
- It reports to the president who, in turn, reports to the Board.
- Internal committees of the Academic Senate are composed only of Senate members.
- External committees are composed of people who are not on the Senate.
- Under Senate bylaws, the role of Senate committees is to make reports and recommendations to the Senate.
- The bylaws of the Council provide that it is an external, standing committee of the Senate.
- It is to report to the student affairs committee.
- In reality, it serves as an advisory body to the athletic director, with primary advisory responsibility to the president.
- It gives advice on the development of budgets and policies governing the intercollegiate athletic program.
- The Council consists of voting and nonvoting members.
- The voting faculty members are elected by the Senate for staggered three-year terms, the four voting student members are elected by the Senate for one-year terms, and the two voting alumni members are selected by the board of directors of the ISU alumni association.
- The nonvoting Council members are the athletic director, associate athletic director, two coaches, and the president's administrative designee.
- Members of the Council cannot be removed except for absences.
- The Board and the president normally follow the recommendations of the Senate, but they are not required to do so.
- The Council gives the president advice concerning National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) regulations.
- There are over 300 standing committees at ISU.
- Cohen stated his opinion that complying with the Illinois FOIA would be a "nightmare" for all these committees.
Ruling of the court
After the close of all evidence, the trial court ruled that the Council is a public body subject to FOIA.
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 Ruling of the Court