“As a patriotic Gator, I helped.”

The Wall Street Journal takes a look at one of our favorite SEC traditions, the go-to criminal defense lawyer.

As the article notes, there is one troubling aspect to the quality legal representation being offered in these cases:

Barnett said he stopped representing athletes in 1990. At the time, he said, he believed his representation might cause problems with the NCAA. “I knew we shouldn’t be giving special treatment to athletes,” he said.

As the governing body of intercollegiate sports, the NCAA has gone to great lengths to enforce a code of amateurism that prevents players from being paid for their participation or accepting any benefit derived from their status on campus.

Josephine Potuto, a University of Nebraska law professor and the school’s faculty representative to the NCAA, said: “I grant you 1000% that there are enforcement problems” with this legal representation policy. Nevertheless, she said she does not believe athletes should be denied free representation if they can’t afford to pay. “The opportunity to get somebody to help should override enforcement’s concerns,” she said.

Nice straw man, dahlin’.  The issue isn’t denial of free representation – that’s constitutionally guaranteed, and I presume Gainesville’s got a public defender office – it’s whether lawyers who normally charge up-front five-figure fees for representation are providing something of value to an amateur athlete by agreeing to take his case for nothing.  Hey, I’m not the only one who sees that:

University of Florida spokesman Steve McClain said the school “periodically” asks local defense attorneys to confirm that they are treating the school’s athletes like other clients. In 2011, according to McClain, the school sent Johnson an email asking him for written confirmation that all Florida athletes pay for the legal services he provides—and that the fees are consistent with what other clients are charged.

In his reply, which was provided by the school, Johnson said “We are aware of NCAA regulations as they relate to student-athletes and legal representation and we wish to assure you that we are in compliance with said regulations.”

Consider me reassured.  Go Gata!


UPDATE:  John Infante has more on the representation issue.


Filed under Crime and Punishment, The NCAA

4 responses to ““As a patriotic Gator, I helped.”

  1. MGW

    Iron clad. The NCAA could waste a whole lot of money screwing around with that little exception, and it ain’t going anywhere. The only recourse would be proving the University is too involved in it. Even then, though, how could you possibly punish someone under our constitution for steering someone else in the direction of the best damn pro bono representation around?


  2. shane#1

    The Lumpkin School of Law graduates many lawyers every year. What is to prevent one of these guys from taking on a high profile athlete and making a name for himself? The problem in Athens is that suspensions are handed out at the time of arrest, not conviction. Brandon Smith had to prove that the joint wasn’t his in an Alabama court of law before his suspension was lifted. It seems plain to me hat UF has been in a cover up mode not to protect their athletes but to field a winning team.