News from the Tennessee Valley Sports

Cottrell judge says order didn't cover jury awards

TUSCALOOSA (AP) — Circuit Court Judge Steve Wilson has filed an order clarifying a ruling concerning an indemnity agreement between the NCAA and a recruiting analyst in a defamation lawsuit by two former Alabama football coaches.

The judge said his original order holding that the agreement didn't cover jury awards was intended to cover only punitive damages.

The Tuscaloosa jury awarded former Crimson Tide assistant coach Ronnie Cottrell $6 million in compensatory damages and $24 million in punitive damages against recruiting analyst Tom Culpepper. "This court never intended to rule in that order that the compensatory damages were not covered by the agreement," Wilson wrote in the new order Friday. "That would be the subject of a separate lawsuit between the parties."

The Tuscaloosa News reported Tuesday that the judge also sent a letter to the Alabama Supreme Court explaining his reasoning. Wilson tossed out the jury award, which he said was biased, and ordered a new trial. Attorneys for both sides have presented oral arguments to the Supreme Court, during which the NCAA acknowledged having an indemnity agreement with Culpepper.

Culpepper attorney John Scott argued that the agreement was not pertinent to this case and was a matter between his client and the NCAA.

Delaine Mountain, an attorney representing Cottrell and Williams, said the plaintiffs would file a response to Wilson's new order soon.

The NCAA had argued during the trial before Wilson that an indemnity agreement couldn't cover punitive damages.

Wilson's initial ruling on Aug. 19, 2005 had concluded that "it appears on its face that it will be irrelevant, and inadmissible in any post judgment hearing in this case, because it does not indemnify defendant Tom Culpepper for any damages assessed by the jury in this case..."

Cottrell and another former Alabama assistant, Ivy Williams, sued Culpepper and the NCAA claiming they were unable to find comparable employment following the NCAA's investigation of Alabama, which was placed on probation and received other sanctions for rules violations.

Wilson threw out all claims against the NCAA, leaving only Cottrell's suit against Culpepper, who was a secret witness against Alabama in the investigation.

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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