Tarpley seeking $6.5 million in damages after favorable EEOC ruling

Updated: August 1, 2007, 10:31 PM ET
Associated Press

HOUSTON -- The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is siding with former Dallas Mavericks player Roy Tarpley in his legal fight for reinstatement by the NBA, which banned him in 1995 for violating the league's substance abuse policy.

The EEOC ruled that the NBA violated the Americans with Disabilities Act by failing to reinstate Tarpley, 42, who has passed all drug tests taken in the last four years, EEOC District Director Spencer Lewis wrote in a letter of determination dated May 17 sent to Tarpley, the Mavericks and league attorneys.

In a separate letter dated June 28, Lewis wrote that the EEOC's attempt to mediate an out-of-court resolution had failed, clearing the way for Tarpley to sue within 90 days. He is seeking at least $6.5 million, said Joe Walker, his attorney.

"The goal of the whole action is to get him reinstated, get his name back, and also to compensate him for the loss he's incurred," Walker told Houston TV station KRIV on Wednesday.

Tarpley acknowledges he is too old to make a comeback but said he wants to clear his name.

"Right now it's about me getting my name back and being able to help someone else who's struggling with issues," Tarpley said.

NBA spokesman Tim Frank declined comment. Mavericks spokeswoman Sarah Melton declined comment Wednesday.

In a six-season career with the Mavericks that was interrupted by one suspension and ended by another, Tarpley averaged 12.6 points and 10.0 rebounds per game.

The 7-foot Tarpley was the seventh pick in the 1986 NBA draft out of Michigan. He played for the Mavericks from 1986 until he was thrown out of the NBA in October 1991 for using cocaine, a violation of the league's substance-abuse policy.

For two years Tarpley played professional basketball in Greece until he was reinstated by the NBA in 1994. He then signed a six-year, $20 million contract with the Mavericks.

But Tarpley's NBA return didn't last long. He was permanently banned from the league in December 1995 for using alcohol and violating the terms of a court-imposed personal aftercare program.


Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press