Notre Dame Forced to Vacate 2012 and 2013 Wins

On February 13, 2018, the NCAA’s Division I Infractions Appeals Committee (IAC) announced that the University of Notre Dame’s football team must vacate 21 wins accumulated during the 2012 and 2013 football seasons. Back in November 2016, an NCAA panel sanctioned Notre Dame after the school self-reported that a student trainer had done coursework and given benefits to a group of football players. As a result of the ruling, wins from the 2012 and 2013 seasons were vacated, Notre Dame was put on probation, Notre Dame was fined $5,000, five players were suspended for academic misconduct, and four others left the program before the infractions were announced. Norte Dame appealed the panel’s decision, but the IAC upheld the 2016 panel ruling. Notre Dame argued that the IAC did not properly ...
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Mississippi Firearms Bill Unpopular with NCAA Conference Chief

On February 7, 2018, House Bill 1083, proposing to allow the carrying of certain firearms in public, overwhelmingly passed the Mississippi House. The bill would allow those with enhanced concealed carry permits to carry in such places as university campuses, in courthouses, and at sporting events. NCAA Southeastern Conference Chief, Greg Sankey, wasted no time in expressing serious concerns about potentially negative repercussions befalling Mississippi universities, should the bill become law. Specifically, Sankey took issue with future implications on collegiate athletic events, noting that “it is likely that competitors will decline opportunities to play in Oxford and Starkville, game officials will decline assignments, personal safety concerns will be used against Mississippi universities during the recruiting process and fan attendance will be negatively implicated.” Sankey’s safety and attendance concerns were similarly echoed ...
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NCAA Bribery Suit Continues Less One Defendent

The NCAA corruption and bribery case is still ongoing, though now with one less defendant. We recently reported on a motion filed February 9, 2018, in which the defendants moved to suppress evidence arising from an allegedly flawed warrant application by the United States Attorney’s Office. Also on February 9, and in further progression of the case, a federal judge complied with a request by federal prosecutors to dismiss the charges against defendant Jonathan Brad Augustine, former director of an Adidas-sponsored travel basketball organization called 1 Family Hoops. This dismissal relieved Augustine of a slew of charges, including wire fraud, conspiracy to commit wire fraud, and conspiracy to commit money laundering. The charges emerged after Augustine and several other individuals were alleged to have participated in a scheme which funneled ...
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NHL Moves to Bar Testimony of Four Expert Witnesses in Concussion Litigation

On February 9, 2018, two proposed classes of NHL players asked U.S. District Court Judge Susan Richard Nelson not to bar expert testimony of four experts. The players argued that the experts provided necessary information that is pertinent to their lawsuit. The suit began when former NHL players claimed that the NHL failed to inform them of the health risks caused by concussions and head-related trauma even though the league had knowledge of such information. The NHL argued that epidemiologist Dr. R. Dawn Comstock’s opinions are not admissible because they have not been peer-reviewed. In their motion, the players argued that Dr. Comstock’s opinion—that NHL hockey players are at an increased risk of developing long term neurological disorders—is one of general causation. According to the players, the NHL misconstrues Dr. ...
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Tampa Bay Buccaneers Move to Dismiss Expert in Negligence and Fraud Claims

On February 7, 2018, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers filed a motion to dismiss a lawsuit brought by former player, Lazarius Pep Levingston. Levingston sued the team and its Director of Football Operations, Mike Greenburg, for negligence and fraud, alleging that the team concealed the extent of Levingston’s injures in order to give Levingston a smaller settlement. In August 2013, Levingston suffered a neck injury in a pre-season football game. The team informed Levingston that he had a “cervical strain/sprain, thoracic sprain/contusion, and shoulder contusion.” He was released from the team and was given a $30,000 settlement. According to the motion, he agreed to discharge all claims arising from his employment and medical care. Levingston tried to rehabilitate and continue playing football, but in May or June 2016, after a failed ...
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NFL and NFLPA Move to Stop Former Agent’s Antitrust Claim

On February 5, 2018, the NFL, and the NFL Players Association (NFLPA), filed a motion to dismiss an antitrust suit brought by former sports agent James Dickey. As we have previously covered, Dickey accused the NFL and the NFLPA of stifling competition by implementing a rule called the “Three Year Rule” to keep new agents out of the NFL. In order for an agent to represent players the must be certified. To be certified, agents must negotiate at least one NFL team contract every three years. According to Dickey, “The three-year rule was set up as a ruse and sham to routinely deny any reasonable appeal to the decertification process, which became an automatic decertification event contrary to the guidelines as set forth under the [collective bargaining agreement].” Dickey was ...
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Filing Mistake Could Cost Government in NCAA Corruption/Bribery Case

On February 9, 2018, defendants in the NCAA corruption and bribery case filed a motion to suppress key government evidence. The motion outlines several procedural breaches, the most important is the claim of “a failure to identify the authorizing justice official” in paperwork to obtain a warrant for a wiretap. On April 7, 2017, a court issued an order permitting the federal government to wiretap Munish Sood’s cellphone for thirty days. The goal of the wiretap was to target communications between Mr. Sood and Christian Dawkins, a defendant in the case. However, the wiretap authorization application failed to comply with the statutory requirements of the Federal Wiretap Act because it did not identify the Department of Justice Official who authorized the request. Instead, the order contained a bracketed placeholder, stating ...
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Judge Delays NCAA $75 Million Settlement for the Second Time

On February 6, 2018, U.S. District Judge John Lee again delayed final approval of a $75 million settlement after he learned thousands of current and former NCAA student-athletes have still yet to be notified of the settlement. Judge Lee expressed his frustration with the notification process, and he once again delayed finial approval given that nearly 13,000 class members have not yet learned about the case and its proposed settlement. The $75 million dollar settlement was initially approved by Judge Lee in July 2017. Seventy million of the settlement will go to a Medical Monitoring Program, which will help treat and monitor the estimated 4.4 million current and former NCAA student-athletes who took part in contact and non-contact sports. The remaining $5 million will go to concussion research, changes to ...
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Aaron Hernandez’s Consortium Suit Added to Multidistrict Litigation

On February 5, 2018, a suit brought by Shayanna Jenkins-Hernandez, the fiancée of the late New England Patriots tight end Arron Hernandez, on behalf of Mr. Hernandez’s daughter, Avielle Hernandez, was added to ongoing multidistrict litigation against the NFL. As we have continuously covered, Jenkins-Hernandez has tried to remand her suit from federal court to Massachusetts state court. She originally filed her suit in Massachusetts state court, but the NFL removed the suit to federal court. However, back in late January 2018, U.S. District Judge George A. O’Toole Jr. decided to stay Jenkins-Hernandez’s suit and her motion to remand until a panel decide if it should add Jenkins-Hernandez’s suit to an ongoing multidistrict concussion litigation. The panel decided to add the suit to the ongoing multidistrict litigation because Jenkins-Hernandez’s suit ...
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NCAA College-Athletes Move to Secure Settlement

On January 31, 2018, a class of college-athletes, suing the NCAA over the alleged anti-competition cap benefits, asked Judge Claudia J. Wilken to issue an appeal bond. As we have previously covered, the class secured a court approved settlement of over $209 million, the second largest settlement in NCAA history. However, Darrin Duncan was the only member of the class of 53,748 that objected to the $209 million settlement. Mr. Duncan has since appealed the court approved settlement. Now, the rest of the class has asked Judge Wilken to grant an appeal bond forcing Duncan to pay a bond or drop his appeal. The class argues that Duncan has filed a frivolous appeal which has denied relief to the thousands of class members awaiting their share of the settlement. Duncan’s ...
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