Category Archives: See You In Court

“… a person doesn’t check their constitutional rights at the field house…”

Remember Donald De La Haye, the backup kicker who was kicked off the Central Florida team last year because he wouldn’t deactivate his YouTube channel?

Well, he sued the school, claiming his First Amendment rights were violated and is seeking to have his scholarship reinstated.  UCF filed a motion to dismiss his claims.  Yesterday, that motion was denied.

Senior district judge Anne Conway denied UCF’s request to dismiss De La Haye’s lawsuit almost a month after attorneys for both sides appeared in court. The court found that De La Haye has a plausible first amendment violation claim allowing the case to continue. The court agreed with UCF in that De La Haye’s fourteenth amendment right pertaining to due process was not violated and dismissed the claim.

“Donald was a model athlete who, like nearly all college students, uses social media to connect with friends and followers and offer glimpses into his life. But rather than reward a student for using his talents, passion, and creativity to create content that tens of thousands of people enjoyed—just as Donald was doing as a UCF student—UCF chose to punish him,” said Goldwater Institute Director of National Litigation Jon Riches. “We hope that today’s decision denying UCF’s attempt to dismiss this case will be a step toward protecting Donald’s rights and ensuring all college student-athletes’ free speech rights are protected.”

Don’t know where this one’s going yet, but seeing as we’re entering an era where 1A rights are being asserted to overcome all sorts of governmental actions, I wouldn’t be so quick to presume UCF prevails here.  How that would impact enforcement of NCAA bylaw 12.4.4 remains to be seen.

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For the people

I dislike the NCAA as much as anybody, but, damn, this is going to be — hell, already is — a real shitshow.

Luke Hancock said he can’t go more than two days without somebody asking him if he had strippers in his college dormitory.

To the former Louisville basketball star, those interactions are evidence of his sullied reputation, a lingering effect of an NCAA investigation and sanctions tied to the escort scandal at the University of Louisville.

A lawsuit filed against the NCAA on Wednesday by five former University of Louisville men’s basketball players is an attempt to redeem reputations.

The five plaintiffs — former Louisville players Hancock, Gorgui Dieng, Stephan Van Treese, Tim Henderson and Michael Marra — are seeking “a declaration that they are completely innocent of any wrongdoing as implied by the NCAA,” according to the lawsuit, which was filed in Jefferson Circuit Court.

The suit accuses the NCAA of portraying members of the 2013 team in a false light and seeks to restore the team’s 2013 national championship and associated accolades, which were vacated by the NCAA along with 123 wins as a result of the escort scandal.

“People’s reputations matter,” said attorney Keith Mitnik, who is representing the players.

Hancock, flanked by eight attorneys, was the lone player present Wednesday at a news conference to discuss the lawsuit. The former Louisville team captain wore his championship ring and sat stone-faced as attorneys invoked LeBron James, Louis Brandeis, Muhammad Ali and novelist Nathaniel Hawthorne’s “The Scarlet Letter” in a bizarre 35-minute prelude.

Lead attorney John Morgan, of personal injury law firm Morgan & Morgan, cast the NCAA as an overreaching bully, an organization with no authority to investigate — or levy punishment for — criminal actions.

Yeah, this is going far.  (Although, sure, I’d love to watch Petino’s deposition, if things ever got to that stage.)

Bonus derp:

As the lawyer’s adage goes, if you have the law on your side, argue the law; if you have the facts, argue the facts; if you have neither, pound Donald Trump.

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“… no one is interested in how a particular individual’s fantasy team fared.”

So, I’m reading this story

The Indiana Supreme Court heard arguments Thursday on a case pitting fantasy sports companies against athletes who want compensation for the use of their names, photos and statistics.

The athletes point to state law that gives individuals the right to control how their names are used for commercial purposes. It’s called their “right of publicity.” But there are exceptions to the law.

The case has national implications for the emerging and massive market of legal sports betting. If the athletes prevail, it could open the door to players unions demanding licensing fees from legal casinos that use players for “proposition” bets. Those are based on an individual’s performance, such as whether someone will score a touchdown or hit a home run in a game.

… and a thought suddenly crystallizes in my brain:  There is no “front of the jersey” issue with fantasy sports.  It’s the antithesis of rooting for a college team.  It’s all about making money off a player’s stats.

Still, I’m sure there’s some defense an amateurism romantic can come up with to deny compensation here.  It’s probably a variation of Barack Obama’s “you didn’t build that” argument, amirite?

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They paid the law and the law won.

Nothing but sunshine and blue skies ahead for the NCAA

On top of all of this, given the NCAA’s ongoing, and potentially future, legal entanglements, McNeely said the association’s long-term financial plan now includes budgeting for outside legal fees to increase by 10 percent a year. According to the association’s newly released tax records, that cost was just over $36 million for a fiscal year that ended Aug. 31, 2017.

If you’re a litigator, you’ve got to love a client willing to build in a cost of doing business like that.

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Steele’s 2018 SEC coach rankings

Here you go, in order of descent:

  • Saban
  • Malzahn and Smart (tied)
  • Boom
  • Fisher
  • Mullen, Orgeron and Stoops (tied)
  • Mason and Odom (tied)
  • Luke
  • Morris
  • Moorhead and Pruitt (tied)

Steele’s playoff picks may be conventional, but the order of this list sure isn’t.  Muschamp has a losing record against Jimbo (not to mention that unlike Fisher, Boom’s been fired before).  Orgeron tied with Mullen is an unusual take, to say the least.  His ranking of Moorhead is more negative than most.

There seems to be an emphasis on experience at the bottom of the rankings and not so much of one towards the top.

Your thoughts?

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Romantics on the bench

This is certainly favorable news for the NCAA and amateurism.

A federal appeals court has backed an NCAA rule requiring most football players who transfer schools to sit out a year.

The 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago upheld a lower-court finding that NCAA transfer rules don’t violate U.S. antitrust laws.

Monday’s decision was in a lawsuit brought by a former punter for Northern Illinois University, Peter Deppe. The ruling focuses on a requirement that most Division I football players who transfer to another school must sit out a year.

Deppe’s lawyers argued the Indianapolis-based NCAA enforces the rule primarily to ensure transfers don’t hurt the quality of the football and thereby cut into lucrative revenues. They say that makes it an unreasonable restraint on trade.

But the 7th Circuit rejected that. Its unanimous opinion accepted the NCAA’s concern that easy player transfers would undermine “the amateur character of college athletics.”

The reasoning doesn’t make any sense to me, but there’s no doubt a win’s a win.

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Putting the “class” in class-action

Man, it’s crap like this that gives lawyers a bad name.

More than $208 million of what used to be the NCAA’s money is sitting in a bank account, waiting to be distributed to at least 50,000 current and former college athletes as well as the lawyers who represented them in a case that was settled well over a year ago.

Standing in the way are one former college football player and his attorney.

Before you start pumping your fist in the air about the news confirming your worst thoughts about the motives of the lawyers suing the NCAA, realize this is nothing more than a shakedown by one of those lawyers against the rest who are trying to get the award distributed to their clients.  How do I know?  Because this isn’t her first rodeo.

They have taken their objection to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, repeating an action that they and another objector pursued three years ago in the wake of a $60 million settlement related to the use of college athletes’ names and likenesses in video games. In both instances, the objections centered at least in part on the attorney’s fees and costs awarded to the plaintiffs’ lawyers.

The former player, Western Michigan wide receiver Darrin Duncan, ultimately withdrew the appeal to the video-games settlement, but not until after court filings revealed that his attorney, Caroline Tucker, attempted to obtain $200,000 from the plaintiffs’ lawyers in exchange for dropping the objection.

It’s bad enough that the judge has required them to post a bond to pursue further action, on the grounds that the objection raised is “meritless and thus his appeal is unlikely to succeed.”  It’s bad enough that the other attorneys have filed motions asking for sanctions against the two.  And, again, history suggests they have a point.

The motion for sanctions notes that since 2016, there are seven other cases in which she has represented – or is representing – objectors in appeals to the 9th Circuit. Three of those cases are pending, she lost in one and she voluntarily dismissed the others. In addition, the motion says, Tucker has been an objector in four other class-action settlement appeals spread across four different circuits, voluntarily dismissing each.

And that’s not even the most cringeworthy part.  This is.

All of this is occurring against the backdrop of Duncan dealing with personal hardship.

Now 28, he has been diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma, according to his mother and a GoFundMe page established on his behalf about a year ago.

Pretty ugly.

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