EDITORIAL: Frost contract ruling a positive step towards transparency

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Earlier this week, a judge in Lancaster County District Court ruled the metrics of Scott Frost's contract be made public knowledge.

The ruling means the goals, incentives and payment structures involved in the contract are now available for public consumption. Nebraska Athletic Director Trev Alberts said of the contract, “It really isn't a huge secret.” Alberts argued that the goals for Frost were clear.

If the contract wasn't “really a huge secret,” it shouldn't have taken a court ruling to make the details visible. For Nebraska fans, a discussion may be had if it's anyone's business to know the behind-the-scenes details of the program to that degree.

But the ruling goes beyond whether or not someone's contract should be visible to the public. In this case, it should, because the University of Nebraska-Lincoln is a public institution and funded, in part, by taxpayers. Athletic programs are an extension of the university and while many aspects are funded through boosters, revenue and sponsors, it's still a public employee at hand.

This is not about wins or losses or whether or not Frost should have been fired. It's simply an exercise in transparency. Because Nebraska is a taxpayer-funded, it's only fair that the decisions made by those in charge are accessible to the public. Having details held back or restricted gives off the feeling that someone doesn't want us, the public, to know something.

That's not exactly the best approach for an organization which gets half of its funding from state appropriation and tuition and a program that brings in tens of millions of dollars each year. The common denominator in both of those figures is that the public foots a lot of the bill whether it be through taxes, ticket and concession sales or tuition.

As the program moves on from Frost, debates will be had who will be his replacement. Following will be conversations about the contract, dollar figure and how many years it involves. Those conversations happen anywhere, any time a high profile job becomes open. Hopefully, the information around those searches and contracts becomes less secretive along the way.

But information and its availability shouldn't be limited to the head coach of a major college football program. Anytime taxpayer money is involved, be it school superintendents, police chiefs and anyone in between, the public has the right to know what is detailed in his or her contract.

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