Tarnished Twenty- The FindLaw Sports Law Blog

December 2017 Archives

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.