NCAA Wins Big Legal Battle

The NCAA scored a huge coutroom victory Thursday when Judge Steve Wilson ruled Ronnie Cottrell a public figure, virtually freeing the NCAA and two NCAA employees from defamation claims brought by Ronnie Cottrell in his $60 million dollar lawsuit.

Wilson ruled that, by virtue of his position as recruiting coordinator at Alabama, Cottrell could be expected to assume a rule of public prominence.

The ruling read, "As such, the plaintiff Cottrell would have access to the media, and a potential to influence the outcome of the controversy that a private person would not have. Based on the facts, and case law presented the court finds, as a matter of law, plaintiff Ronnie Cottrell was a limited purpose public figure."

Charlie Elmer, an attorney with the plaintiff's firm Haskell, Slaughter, Young and Rediker, was in Tuscaloosa at the hearing in Judge Wilson's court.

"With all due respect to Judge Wilson's ruling, we are shocked and disappointed," Elmer said. "This ruling effectively denies us our day in court for which we had hoped. We will forge ahead and try the claims he has allowed. At the appropriate time we will appeal."

Any claim by Cottrell against the NCAA, such as the blacklisting of Cottrell's name on an NCAA web site, would have to show absolute malice, a burden which the plaintiff's would not be able to show against the NCAA, the judge ruled.

The judge also threw out all of the conspiracy, invasion of privacy, negligence and wantonness claims.

The only NCAA involvement remaining in the case is defamation claims by Ivy Williams. Williams was deemed not to be a limited purpose public figure.

Cottrell's defamation claim against Tom Culpepper also remains to be heard beginning on Monday.

Note: check back with for more on today's ruling

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