Fulmer secretly provided info about rival's violations

Updated: January 16, 2004, 11:20 PM ET
Associated Press

MONTGOMERY, Ala. -- Tennessee coach Phillip Fulmer secretly provided damaging information about Alabama to the NCAA, according to a lawyer for two former Crimson Tide football coaches suing the organization.

Court documents show Fulmer twice called NCAA staffer Rich Johanningmeier, who was probing alleged wrongdoing at Alabama in 2000, and gave him information implicating the Tide in rules violations, according to attorney Tommy Gallion.

Gallion, a Montgomery lawyer who represents former Alabama assistants Ronnie Cottrell and Ivy Williams, contends the NCAA ignored violations at Tennessee in exchange for Fulmer's help in the case against Alabama.

"They buried everything at Tennessee and they went after Alabama based on what Phillip Fulmer said," said Gallion.

The documents, obtained Friday by The Associated Press, surfaced in federal court in Memphis, Tenn., where former Alabama booster Logan Young is awaiting trial in the recruiting scandal. A motion filed by Young's attorney cleared the way for the release of the records Monday, including notes by the NCAA investigator who asked that Fulmer's name be kept secret.

Fulmer declined comment Thursday, citing the ongoing federal investigation.

"Since it involves a federal investigation in Memphis that doesn't involve the University of Tennessee, I think it is inappropriate for me to comment," UT athletic director Mike Hamilton said Friday.

NCAA spokesman Jeff Howard criticized the public release of the documents.

"The association is very disappointed with the cavalier way documents -- including confidential interviews -- have been handled by some attorneys involved in these matters," Howard said. "Making such document public has jeopardized the fair treatment of these coaches and their institutions."

Young was indicted in October on conspiracy charges for allegedly paying $150,000 to have a promising recruit attend Alabama. That same allegation was a key part of the NCAA case that led to the Tide being placed on probation.

Cottrell and Williams have filed a $60 million lawsuit against the NCAA and others claiming they were incorrectly accused of wrongdoing in the Alabama investigation.

The NCAA two years ago placed Alabama on five years of probation, banned it from bowls for two years and imposed heavy scholarship reductions for recruiting violations.

The Tide contested charges that boosters made five-figure payments to lure two recruits to Tuscaloosa, but it admitted other violations and imposed penalties on itself.

Nothing in NCAA rules prohibits coaches from supplying information on rival schools on a confidential basis. But Gallion said he can prove that "85 percent" of the charges leveled against Alabama were fabricated.

The NCAA informed Alabama last week it would not face any more sanctions linked to the recruiting scandal. Both that letter and the claims by Gallion were made public at the height of recruiting season.


Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press