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Ex-Ole Miss Coach Wins Lawsuit

October 12, 1999 GMT

OXFORD, Miss. (AP) _ Former Mississippi football coach Billy Brewer won his lawsuit against the university Tuesday, five years after being fired in the wake of an NCAA investigation.

A jury deliberated most of the day in Lafayette County Circuit Court before deciding Brewer was owed more than $200,000 in salary. The jury, however, did not award the former coach $2 million in damages he sought from the school.

The university fired Brewer in 1994 for deliberate and serious NCAA violations. Brewer said he committed none.

Brewer filed suit in 1995, claiming his firing ``stigmatized″ him in college coaching circles.

Since leaving his alma mater after 11 seasons, the 64-year-old Brewer has not coached. He still lives in Oxford.

Barbara Lago, director of public information at the University of Mississippi, said school officials were disappointed.

``We have always felt we acted prudently and justly in relieving Coach Brewer of his duties as head football coach in 1994,″ she said.

During almost two weeks of testimony, College Board attorneys tried to link Brewer to the unsuccessful coverup of the NCAA violations.

Brewer’s attorney, Jim Waide of Tupelo, suggested that the university pressured former athletics director Warner Alford to resign and fire Brewer in an attempt to make the NCAA look more favorably on the school when levying sanctions.

Waide also had said the $100,000 in severance pay that Warner received after his resignation was a ``payoff″ to fire Brewer.

Warner testified, under questioning by the State College Board attorney Cal Mayo that the $100,000 severance package was legitimate. He also said he thought the university was correct in firing Brewer.

Tommy Rayburn, who represented one of the assistant coaches during an interview with the NCAA, testified Monday that the majority of the NCAA’s questions revolved around Brewer.

``It was obvious (the assistant coach) was OK, but they were after Billy Brewer’s ... and I used a descriptive part of the anatomy that begins with `a,‴ Rayburn said.

The NCAA faulted Brewer for failure to control his football program and for unethical conduct.

Mississippi, which had served NCAA probation during the 1987 and 1988 seasons while Brewer was coach, received two more years of sanctions in November 1994.

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Brewer was fired about four months before the NCAA handed down its ruling in the case. At the time, he was dean of Southeastern Conference football coaches and had a 67-56-3 record.

The 1994 sanctions against Mississippi resulted in drastic scholarship reductions, a two-year postseason ban and a year with no televised games.

Since the probation ended, Mississippi has been to consecutive bowl games, the 1997 Motor City Bowl and 1998 Independence Bowl.