Money Talks

A group of 12 men and women who haven't been able to say anything about Ronnie Cottrell and Ivy Williams' case against the NCAA and Tom Culpepper for the past two weeks had their say Friday, awarding a $30 million verdict to Cottrell in his remaining defamation claim against Culpepper, and putting the NCAA on notice.

Jury foreman Joseph Santina signed the verdict form that awarded Cottrell $6 million in compensatory damages and $24 million in punitive damages just after 3:30 p.m. in Tuscaloosa Circuit Court Friday.

The jury deliberated for about an hour before returning the unanimous verdict against Culpepper. John Scott, who represented Culpepper, had the jury polled and then requested they go back and identify the statements they found defamatory.

Culpepper and Scott left through a side door as the court stood for the jury to exit the courtroom for the second time. Joshua Threadcraft, another attorney representing Culpepper, did not comment as he left the courtroom.

"We just felt there was a lot of evidence for the plaintiff," foreman Santina said.

The jurors did not have the opportunity to render a verdict either way against the NCAA, after Ivy Williams claims against the NCAA were thrown out earlier in the week, but the jurors had formed an opinion about the NCAA's role in Cottrell and Williams' claims.

"I was disappointed that Mr. Williams' case was removed, particularly against the NCAA," Santina said.

Another juror, Wade Dailey, said there was never any disagreement on the jury as to Culpepper's liability.

"From the starting point it was pretty unanimous whether Mr. Culpepper was guilty or innocent of the defamation," he said. "I hope it helped. I think (Cottrell's) reputation was built over a lifetime and it was destroyed in a short time. I don't know if he will totally get it back, but I hope this helps."

"I felt like the NCAA was somewhat responsible for what happened to both coaches. I think a majority of the jury felt similar to me on the NCAA's involvement in regards to Mr. Cottrell and Mr. Williams. I will say I was disappointed that the NCAA was dismissed from the case on Wednesday, but I don't know all the facts about it."

Delaine Mountain believed the verdict amount was the largest ever from a jury in a civil matter in Tuscaloosa County. Mountain said he intends to continue his pursuit the NCAA on an appeal.

"We'll be back on our pursuit of what's going to happen next and what's going to happen with the NCAA."

"They're out of our reach in this case in this courtroom, but they are not out of our reach," Mountain said.

Ronnie Cottrell said, "We still feel like there is more work to do as far as - I'm going to leave that to my attorneys. I've got a job to do at Ozark."

"All I ever asked for was a jury trial. Yes, I do (feel I got my reputation back.)"

Mountain also had a message for former assistant Williams, who had his part of the case thrown out on Wednesday.

"Don't give up Ivy, because we're not through," he said.

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