The University of Tennessee recently decided to do away with calling nearly all its women's sports teams Lady Vols, a move that came at about the same time the university announced switching from Adidas to Nike for athletic apparel. Now, they are all Volunteers who will use the Power T logo—except for the women's basketball team, which still gets to be Lady Vols. So, there's a new apparel contract on the books and all of a sudden the Lady Vols name has to go. Hmmmmm ...

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Tennessee, as expected, issued a press release using all the usual platitudes. They called this a "branding restructure," mentioned a "comprehensive branding audit" done with the help of Nike, and intoned about the importance of "better branding consistency." They even gave the branding restructuring a brand—"One Tennessee." The press release, of course, did not address the many concerns raised by former Lady Vols: the hypocrisy of not actually using the Power T for every team, how this unification is really just having the men's logo forced on them, and all the history they feel is being erased. (You can read more about this and a collection of letters from former and current Lady Vols at Bring Back the Lady Vols.)

So what's really going on here between Tennessee and Nike? Hoping to find out, I submitted the following public records request to Tennessee last week:

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Under the Tennessee Open Records Act, §10-7-503 et seq., I am requesting copies of all documented communication between the Office of Communications & Marketing, the Athletic Department, and Nike. This request includes and is not limited to emails, letters, memos, proposals, and text messages. This request covers a time period from Jan. 1, 2013, to today.

It was soon followed by a rejection letter ... because I'm not a Tennessee resident. As it stands, Tennessee's state laws only give the right to review records to "any citizen of this state." I am not a citizen of the state, and therefore they can tell me (and whoever else doesn't live in Tennessee, which includes everyone who works at Deadspin) to bugger off. Is this legal? Apparently so. When questions were raised about a similar resident versus nonresident distinction in Virginia, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 9-0 in the state's favor.

There's only one word for describing this way of thinking: garbage. Why don't they just put a sign at the Tennessee border saying, "Nothing to see here, please turn around"? Or just change the name of the Tennessee Open Records Act to the Tennessee Kinda-Sorta-Maybe-If-We-Like-You Records Act? Or just amend the text of the law to read, "Nah, fuck you"? Functionally, this just seems like a fantastic tool for ensuring national media can only give you glowing coverage—any documented verification is impossible, unless they want to give it to you.

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But, hey, we've got readers everywhere, right? So I'm asking all of you, residents of Tennessee, to submit a public records request for me, if you don't mind. I'm putting a copy of my entire public records request below. Or, hey, come up with your own version if you've got a better idea for one. If you hear back from Tennessee, please let me know: diana@deadspin.com.

To the University of Tennessee,

Under the Tennessee Open Records Act, §10-7-503 et seq., I am requesting copies of all documented communication between the Office of Communications & Marketing, the Athletic Department, and Nike. This request includes and is not limited to emails, letters, memos, proposals, and text messages. This request covers a time period from Jan. 1, 2013, to today.

The Tennessee Open Records Act requires a response time within seven days. If access to the records I am requesting will take longer than this amount of time, please contact me with information about when I might expect copies or the ability to inspect the requested records.

If you have any questions or need more information to fulfill this request, please feel free to contact me at [phone goes here] or [email goes here].

If you deny any or all of this request, please cite each specific exemption you feel justifies the refusal to release the information and notify me of the appeal procedures available to me under the law.

Thank you in advance for all your help,

Sincerely,

[put your name here]

Update: For directions on how to submit a public records request to Tennessee, click here.

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