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


Former sports physician Larry Nassar has been sentenced to hundreds of years in prison after pleading guilty to sexually assaulting patients and minors in his care. Many of those victims were members of Michigan State's and the United States national gymnastics teams. USA Gymnastics has even been accused of paying settlements to Nassar's victims to keep them quiet while he continued to molest team members and other patients.

This week, USA Gymnastics filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, in part, it claims, as an effort to "expedite resolution of claims" filed against the entity by survivors of Nassar's sexual abuse. Does this mean the sport's governing body doesn't have the money to compensate its victimized athletes?

For many years, it was understood that college athletes retained little, if any, right to their likenesses while they fell under the pseudo-legal "student athlete" distinction. The NCAA was free to use player and school names and images to advertise single games, tournaments, and even video games. That was until Ed O'Bannon sued, and federal courts ruled the NCAA couldn't deny athletes of the monetary value of their names, images, and likenesses when used for commercial purposes.

While that ruling may have meant the end of beloved college sports video games (absent money flowing to the athletes themselves), it didn't mean that student athletes retained their rights of publicity in all arenas. Take, for example, daily fantasy gambling sites. The Seventh Circuit last week dismissed a lawsuit filed by college athletes against FanDuel and DraftKings, based on a prior Indiana Supreme Court ruling that the sites could use players' names and images without their consent.

Venus Williams Settles Wrongful Death Lawsuit

Venus Williams can finally exhale. The wrongful death suit filed against her by the family of Jerome Barson has been settled, though details of the settlement have not been disclosed.

Vijay Singh Settles Lawsuit Against PGA Tour for Anti-Doping Claim

Vijay Singh and the PGA Tour have finally settled a lawsuit Singh brought against the organization over five years ago, less than a week before the suit's trial was set to begin. Terms of the settlement were not disclosed, but a joint press release said both sides are looking forward to moving forward and that "the PGA TOUR recognizes that Vijay is one of the hardest working golfers to ever play the game, and does not believe that he intended to gain an unfair advantage over his fellow competitors in this matter."

Like the NFL before it, the NHL has settled ongoing litigation regarding concussions suffered by former players. But unlike the NFL, the NHL did it for a pittance. The NFL's settlement committed the league to spending almost $1 billion in total damages, medical reimbursements, and future medical and psychological care. The NHL looks to be on the hook for about two percent of that -- around $19 million.

"The NHL does not acknowledge any liability for the Plaintiffs' claims in these cases," the league's statement announcing the settlement read. "However, the parties agree that the settlement is a fair and reasonable resolution and that it is in the parties' respective best interests to receive the benefits of the settlement and to avoid the burden, risk and expense of further litigation."

So, why the discrepancy?

Dr. James Andrews is probably the most recognized name when it comes to world class athletes and injuries. The orthopedic surgeon has performed Tommy John surgery on just about every pitcher you know, along with surgeries on Bo Jackson's hip, the shoulders of Cowboys trio Troy Aikman, Michael Irvin, and Emmitt Smith, and knee operations on golfer Jack Nicklaus and wrestler CM Punk. Needless to say, if you're an elite athlete that needs major surgery, you go to Dr. Andrews.

That's certainly what Vikings defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd thought when he went to Andrews for meniscus surgery in 2016. But that operation didn't yield the results of some of the doctor's others. According to Floyd's attorney, the former All-American suffered permanent nerve and muscle damage during the procedure, and will likely never play again.

Whatever our thoughts on Colin Kaepernick, NFL players kneeling during the national anthem to protest police brutality (among other issues), or the free speech rights of athletes generally, most of us didn't go blaming the teams for what the players were doing. Or, worse, accusing the team of intentionally inflicting emotional distress by not warning us that a player might not emerge from the locker room for the national anthem.

Then again, most of us aren't Lee Dragna of Morgan City, Louisiana. Mr. Dragna sued the New Orleans Saints, claiming he never would've purchased season tickets "if he had known that Saints players would use their games as a platform for protests." But a state appeals court summarily bounced that lawsuit, ruling that his lawsuit had failed to state a cause of action.

5 Urban Sports That Might Get You Arrested

There are numerous new sporting adventures these days, limited only by your creativity. But some are illegal, on a variety of fronts. Violators can face some hefty fines, and even prison! Here's a look at five urban sports that can get you arrested.

Temperatures might be cooling down, but legal action regarding heat stroke injuries may just be heating up. Those summer training sessions to prepare for fall competition can be grueling, but when do those sessions cross a legal line? Perhaps when the sun heat index on the field is north of 130 degrees and athletes don't have access to a trainer, cold water, shade, or rest breaks.

Those were the conditions of one summer training session for a Virginia high school soccer team, leading one player to suffer a heat stroke after he got home. The player, Patrick Clancy, is now suing the school's athletic director and head soccer coach, claiming their negligence caused him to sustain serious and permanent injury.

Harvard Diving Coach Resigns Amidst Class Action Sexual Misconduct Lawsuit

As the old saying goes, where there's smoke, there's fire. Harvard is learning the hard way that though it's great to give someone the benefit of the doubt, sometimes the risk is miscalculated.