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


The University of Louisville fired head basketball coach Rick Pitino in October last year, amid allegations that an Adidas executive conspired to funnel money to the families of two top recruits in exchange for their commitment to the school and agreement to represent the brand after they turned pro. That sparked quite a bit of litigation between Pitino and Adidas, which had just inked a 10-year, $160 million contract with the school and paid Pitino $2 million last year.

Pitino sued Adidas, claiming the company "knowingly or recklessly caused him emotional distress when its employees conspired to bribe University of Louisville basketball recruits," and Adidas moved to dismiss the case, arguing that Pitino's claims were subject to mandatory arbitration under his endorsement deal. This week, a federal judge agreed, and dismissed his suit.

Once the Supreme Court opened the door to legalized sports betting by overturning a federal ban in May, you knew a whole bunch of states would walk through it as soon as possible. Why should Nevada have all the fun, anyway? Of course, those new gambling regimes can take a lot of forms, and removal of the federal prohibition on sports betting merely set the stage for states to step in with their own regulations and restrictions.

Now, just a few short months later, what does that landscape look like nationwide? Here's what's up with state sports gambling laws right now.

We've all had the odd fender bender in our day. But most of us don't get sued for $1 million afterwards. Then again, most of us aren't Dallas Cowboy running backs.

Ezekiel Elliott is facing a lawsuit claiming Elliott's negligence left a man -- a Cowboys fan, no less -- with "serious life-altering injuries." Ronnie Hill claims he's still dealing with medical issues from the 2017 accident, and is seeking $1 million in damages.

Fighter Conor McGregor was looking at a multi-year jail sentence if convicted of three counts of assault and one count of criminal mischief stemming from a bout he had with a bus in Brooklyn this April. But the former UFC champ and one-time boxer will avoid incarceration by pleading guilty to just one misdemeanor count of disorderly conduct.

Most importantly, McGregor will also escape without a criminal record, meaning he can travel freely and return to the octagon, possibly by the end of the year.

Around 7 p.m. Sunday night, Sacramento State University campus police were alerted to an erratic driver on campus. At 7:33 p.m., according to Sonoma State spokesperson Paul Gullixson, a car struck a tree on campus. The driver of that car was Roseville High School cheer coach Gabriella Vega, whose blood alcohol level at the time was 0.25 -- more than three times the legal limit. Also in the car with her was a 17-year-old student, who school district spokesperson John Becker said needed a ride back to the campus dorms because she wasn't able to walk back.

The pair were attending a cheer camp on Sonoma State's campus. It was the first night of the four-day camp.

Over 100 former Ohio State students have reported firsthand accounts of sexual misconduct committed by Richard Strauss, a former team doctor at the school from the mid-1970s to the 1990s. Strauss's time at the university overlapped with that of current Ohio Congressman Jim Jordan, who was an assistant wrestling coach at the university from 1987 to 1995. Former wrestlers claim Jordan, founder of the powerful, far-right congressional Freedom Caucus, was aware of the abuse and did nothing to stop it.

Last week, five former wrestlers filed two class-action lawsuits against Ohio State for failing to act after learning of alleged complaints about Strauss' behavior more than 20 years ago, one of which names Jim Jordan.

USA Diving Sued for Ignoring Alleged Sexual Abuse

Sexual abuse in youth and collegiate sports has become far too common. From Dr. Larry Nassar at Michigan State to Jerry Sandusky at Penn State, coaches have been known to use their position of power and authority to coerce athletes into performing sexual acts in exchange for favor and attention. Popular youth sports such as soccer and swimming have seen their fair share of sexual abuse scandals.

And now, USA Diving. Who is at fault and how can it be prevented? These are two issues coming to light in a class-action lawsuit filed against USA Diving accusing William Bohonyi of preying on at least two female divers while he was a USA Diving coach at the Ohio State University Diving Club.

Scientists are still wrapping their heads around chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a neurodegenerative disease discovered, most notably, in ex-NFL players. Researchers still haven't found tests to definitively identify CTE in living people, but they are pinpointing signs and symptoms displayed by those with CTE before they die, from confusion, disorientation, dizziness, and headaches in early stages to dementia, depression, suicidality, social instability, and impulsive behavior in later stages.

And while science is still trying to sort out how CTE works, criminal attorneys are trying to figure out if the brain disease can work as a defense to criminal behavior. Here's a look.

An academic institution's ability to hold a student-athlete hostage for a year after they transfer to another academic institution protects "the character of intercollegiate athletics," according to the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals. A football player had challenged the NCAA's transfer rule, which bars transferring athletes from competing for their new schools for a year, claiming it violated federal anti-trust laws.

The court disagreed, ruling that the "year-in-residence requirement is an eligibility rule clearly meant to preserve the amateur character of college athletics and is therefore presumptively procompetitive." Here's what that means.

Ah, the "baseball rule," one of those little legal quirks that tends to favor Major League Baseball teams by prohibiting lawsuits from fans injured by foul balls or even flying bats. The rule is based on the idea that fans have assumed the risk of such incidents by attending games at sitting close to the action, with ticket stubs often bearing legally foreboding language like: "By attending the baseball game ("Game"), the ticket holder ("Holder") assumes all risk and danger incidental to the Game ... including, but not limited to, the danger of being injured by equipment, objects or persons entering spectator areas."

These warnings, coupled with the baseball rule, often kept injured fans out of court if they tried to hold teams or players liable for equipment or objects "entering spectator areas." But that era may be coming to a close, as one woman's lawsuit against the Red Sox is proving.