Tarnished Twenty - The FindLaw Sports Law Blog - features sports law news and info about sports figures in trouble with the law


We all want sports to be fun, especially at the youth recreational level. "That's the thing," Ohio parent Tony Rue told WLWT, "those names are not having fun. It's not so much even if we had black students or African-American students, or any minority students. Our kids were offended."

Rue was referring to the names printed on the back of one youth basketball team's jerseys, names that included "Knee Grow" and "Coon." The team's name? "Wet Dream Team." The team was banned from the Cincinnati Premier Youth Basketball League after playing three games in the jerseys.

Most instances of gender discrimination and sexual harassment go unreported. And those that do are too often treated as "he said, she said" cases. Take, for instance, the matter of Teri Collins and the Long Beach Unified School District. Collins claims she endured years of gender discrimination and sexual harassment, and her firing was retaliation for complaining about her treatment. The school district says Collins was dismissed because she cyber-bullied a student athlete on Instagram, threatened referees in front of students, and called one pupil a "little B-word."

And Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Frederick Shaller says it's up to a jury to decide who to believe.

2017: The Year in Sports Law

It was a busy year, on and off the field. While players and coaches were vying for championships, lawyers and judges were working overtime behind the scenes, sorting out some enormous legal issues in the sports world.

Here are the major sports law stories from 2017:

The allegations against former Michigan State University and USA Gymnastics team doctor Larry Nassar have been horrifying. Just going by what has been revealed through court documents, Nassar's sexual abuse of athletes and other children in his care, some as young as six years old, continued for at least 20 years and could have involved over 200 victims.

Now, the institutions that employed Nassar for decades are trying to distance themselves from his actions. But a new lawsuit, filed by Olympic gold medalist McKayla Maroney, claims Michigan State and the U.S. Olympic team bought victims' silence with settlements, including a nondisclosure and nondisparagement agreements.

A drug kingpin being sentenced to decades behind bars sounds pretty ordinary. But Owen Hanson was no ordinary kingpin.

The former high school volleyball standout and University of Southern California football walk-on turned his notoriety and personality into illegal gambling and drug trafficking enterprises, according to federal prosecutors. And a federal judge has now sentenced Hanson to 21 years and three months in prison.

Donovan McNabb, Marshall Faulk, Warren Sapp, Ike Taylor, Eric Davis, and Heath Evans. All former NFL stars who've been to Super Bowls or Pro Bowls in their careers; all accused of sexual misconduct during their time as analysts on the NFL Network; and all (of those still employed) suspended from their current jobs at that network or ESPN in the wake of a former stylist's lawsuit.

Jami Cantor claims those players made lewd comments and sexual advances, sent her sexually explicit texts and photos, and even groped her at work, and is suing NFL Network for discrimination, sexual harassment, hostile work environment, retaliation, and wrongful termination.

Doping allegations have plagued Russian athletes for years. Prior to the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio, the World Anti-Doping Agency concluded that Russia's Anti-Doping Agency, its Ministry of Sport, and Federal Security Service operated a "state-directed" doping system and Russian athletes were banned from the competition. Part of the evidence used for that ruling came from the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.

More allegations appear to have doomed Russia's participation in the next Winter Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea. The International Olympic Committee has banned Russian athletes from participating in the Games, and also forbid government officials from attending.

You may have been aware that, even in this day and age of no-fault divorces, claims of adultery can still have an effect on divorce proceedings in certain states. What you may not have realized, however, is that certain jurisdictions still allow lawsuits based on "alienation of affection," essentially a jilted lover's claim that someone deprived them of sexual relations with their ex-spouse.

One of those jurisdictions is North Carolina, where jilted husband Joshua Jeffords is suing Philadelphia Eagles defensive lineman Fletcher Cox, claiming Cox's affair with his wife Catherine Cuesta Jeffords destroyed their marriage.

Those who have been following recent concussion-related lawsuits against the NFL and Pop Warner will be familiar with CTE, or chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a neurological disease discovered in 99 percent of NFL players' brains donated to an MIT study. The frustrating thing -- for players, their families, and scientists alike -- has been the fact that CTE could only be diagnosed posthumously, after a patient had passed away or, as in many cases, committed suicide.

However, researchers now believe they have a method for identifying CTE in living patients, which could have enormous health and legal consequences.

By most accounts, ESPN's '30 for 30' documentary series has been a hit with fans, providing a deeper perspective into some of the most important recent sports stories from the past three decades. One such entry, It's Time, featured the tale of Chucky Mullins, an Ole Miss football player who was paralyzed in a 1989 game against Vanderbilt and passed away two years later.

The only problem was that another Mullins documentary, Undefeated, already existed. And now the maker of that film is suing the network for copyright infringement. The lawsuit claims ESPN agreed to license footage from Undefeated, but then used it without paying and altered some of the images.