Gallion Makes His Case

Thomas T. Gallion, III, is convinced the NCAA made a deal with the Federal judiciary in Memphis and with Tennessee Head Football Coach Phil Fulmer, and the result of those deals was that the governing body of intercollegiate athletics couldn't deal fairly with The University of Alabama and two former coaches who are represented by Gallion in a $60 million suit against the NCAA and others.

Gallion hosted a press briefing in Birmingham Tuesday afternoon in which he provided a handful of documents related to the case of Ronnie Cottrell and Ivy Williams, former Bama assistant football coaches, against the NCAA. In addition to Gallion, Cottrell and Williams, the press heard from three other attorneys serving on the Cottrell-Williams legal team. They are Delaine Mountain of Tuscaloosa, Tyrone Means of Montgomery, and Philip Shanks of Memphis.

Gallion said the case is about compensating his clients for the harm to their reputations and their losses of livelihood because of the NCAA. The attorney said that the NCAA tried to tie his clients to Logan Young, who was disassociated from Alabama in the wake of the NCAA investigation and penalties into Alabama football. Although Young is not his client, Gallion claimed that there had never been a shred of evidence proving that Young was involved in providing money for the high school coach of a player who signed with Alabama, which was the linchpin of the NCAA case.

Both Cottrell and Williams said they had suffered because of the allegations. Cottrell has not been able to find work as a college coach since being dismissed with the Mike DuBose staff at the end of the 2000 football season. Williams is an assistant coach at tiny Savannah State.

Williams revealed that he had been threatened by Federal officials because he refused to lie and say that Young had been involved in paying former Memphis high school coach Lynn Lang in an effort for Alabama to sign Albert Means, who had played for Lang. Means did sign with Alabama, but has since transferred to Memphis. Williams said that five FBI agents accosted him while he was having a meeting with his football players. "They threatened to lock me up because I wouldn't tell them what they wanted me to say," Williams said. "But I wasn't going to lie."

Gallion said it was unprecedented that a private entity, the NCAA, could use the power of Federal government employees to help the NCAA in its investigation. Gallion also said that he is seeking the help of United States Senators Richard Shelby and Jeff Sessions. He said that Shelby is alarmed at the situation and interested in an investigation, but lamented the fact that Sessions, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee that has begun an investigation of the NCAA, does not appear to be interested in helping. He said it was "deplorable" the way his clients were treated by the NCAA in an effort to make them "come up with something on Logan Young."

Shanks said that he is seeking the help of United States Senators Richard Shelby and Jeff Sessions. He said that Shelby is alarmed at the situation in Memphis and interested in an investigation, but lamented the fact that Sessions, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee that has begun an investigation of the NCAA, does not appear to be motivated to help.

Gallion said he would like for The University of Alabama (of which, he noted, he is a fourth generation graduate), to be more involved. He noted that schools are often reluctant to fight the NCAA because of fear, but congratulated Auburn for taking an aggressive stance as Auburn's basketball program is investigated by the NCAA.

Tyrone Means said, "The unfettered power of the NCAA has to be challenged in court."

"The NCAA is like McCarthy (the infamous Senator Joe McCarthy of the early 1950s, whose zeal to roust out communists trampled on the rights of innocent Americans)," Mountain said. "Secret witnesses, findings with no proof, documents replete with lies."

Cottrell told the press that he would have to retract one thing he had told the media earlier. "I had said that when the secret witnesses were revealed that I was going to sue them," he said. "But I thought there were only about three . It turns out there are too many for me to sue."

Much has been made of a long list of confidential sources used by the NCAA in building its case against Alabama. Most prominent among those so-called "secret witnesses" is Tennessee Head Coach Phil Fulmer.

Gallion claimed that the NCAA has failed to investigate or prosecute Tennessee football for various wrongdoings involving academic fraud and payment to players because of an agreement the NCAA made with Fulmer to get information against Alabama.

Although there were no "blockbuster" announcements during the hour-plus briefing, Mountain said that he would be back before Tuscaloosa County Circuit Court Judge Steve Wilson Wednesday afternoon as Judge Wilson has agreed to accept a motion to reconsider Wilson's decision regarding the confidentiality of documents the NCAA will be asked to provide in the trial.

The attorneys at the press briefing noted that no information provided the media is part of the information under the protective (i.e., confidential) order of Judge Wilson. He said the information that was to be confidential had, in fact, been provided by the NCAA to the United States Attorney in Memphis to be used against Young. The information thus became available to Young, who was indicted last fall and whose trial is set for April. Young provided the information to the Cottrell-Williams legal team.

Gallion said it was no coincidence that Alabama received a letter from NCAA Infractions Committee Chairman Tom Yeager saying that there would be no more penalties against Alabama regardless of the outcome in Memphis. Gallion said that was because Yeager knew the NCAA documents of the investigation were about to become public when they came into possession by Young and his lawyers.

In a twist on Yeager's previous claim that Alabama had been "staring down the barrel of a gun" as the Infractions Committee considered penalties against Bama football, Gallion said that the NCAA had been holding a gun at Alabama's head for two and a half years.

But, Cottrell pointed out, while Yeager pronounced The University free and clear, the letter said there is still a possibility of "show cause order" against former staff members. Part of the case against the NCAA involves incorrect information about a "show cause order" against Cottrell. That information was on an NCAA web site that, Gallion said, is used by colleges and universities to check on potential coaching employees. The "show cause order" against Cottrell on the web site was for eight years. It is a challenge to a college to go before the NCAA and show why it would hire that person, and is obviously a tremendous detriment to employment b y any coach listed. Gallion said the NCAA claims it was merely a clerical error.

Gallion said that while his interest is in his clients, he also wants to make sure that this never happens to another coach.

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