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Ex-Alabama Coach Files Suit Against NCAA

December 21, 2002

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) _ Former Alabama assistant coach Ronnie Cottrell has filed a lawsuit claiming he was defamed by university and NCAA officials during an investigation into the Crimson Tide football program.

Cottrell, the recruiting coordinator under former coach Mike DuBose, named the NCAA, infractions committee chairman Thomas Yeager and others as defendants in the suit, filed in Montgomery County Circuit Court.

The suit, which seeks $15 million in compensatory damages and $45 million in punitive damages, also names as defendants Alabama faculty athletics representative Gene Marsh, then-compliance director Marie Robbins and radio talk show host Paul Finebaum.

University counsel Sandy Gordon said Friday he had not seen the lawsuit and could not comment. Finebaum said on his radio show that he stands by his comments.

NCAA officials did not immediately return a call seeking comment Friday.

The suit accuses the defendants of defaming him in connection with the NCAA investigation of Alabama.

The NCAA concluded Cottrell committed only secondary violations involving recruiting but did commit a major violation involving failure to repay loans from Tide booster Logan Young until questioned about the matter by NCAA investigators.

``I’ve never given money to a football recruit,″ Cottrell said. ``I’ve never asked a booster to give money to a football recruit, and I’ve never asked a booster to give money to a coach.″

Cottrell joined Alabama’s staff in 1997 following nine seasons at Florida State. The complaint says he has been unable to get another coaching job because of the NCAA charges.

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