Attorney alleges conspiracy between NCAA, Fulmer

Updated: January 27, 2004, 3:21 AM ET
ESPN.com news services

The latest installment of one of the SEC's most passionate football rivalries may be contested in a courtroom.

The lawyer for two former Alabama assistant football coaches who were fired in the wake of a recruiting scandal claims the coaches were victims of a plot that includes the NCAA, the FBI and Tennessee head coach Philip Fulmer, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports in Tuesday's editions.

According to the report, Thomas Gallion, who is representing Ronnie Cottrell and Ivy Williams in a $60 million defamation suit against the NCAA and others, alleges that Fulmer informed on the Alabama program in 2000 in exchange for his program receiving leniency in investigations of its own academic fraud scandal.

Gallion has evidence that may support his claims. According to documents released earlier this month, Fulmer twice spoke with NCAA official Rich Johanningmeier before Johanningmeier issued his report on the Alabama investigation. The documents show that Fulmer spoke with Johanningmeier about Logan Young, the Alabama booster who ultimately became the central figure in the recruiting scandal that drew the Crimson Tide five years of probation and a two-year bowl ban, according to the Journal-Constitution.

Reportedly, Johanningmeier's report reveals that Fulmer informed the investigator about information gleaned from Young by Internet recruiting analyst Tom Culpepper after the 2001 Orange Bowl game. Young apparently received a ride back to Memphis from Culpepper and proceeded to brag to him about providing inducements to six Alabama players, including star recruit Albert Means.

According to the report, the SEC announced it had concluded its investigation of the Tennessee program on the same day Fulmer provided this information to Johanningmeier. Tennessee ultimately was allowed to accept minor self-imposed penalties for its apparent transgressions.

NCAA spokesman Jeff Howard told the paper that the organization doesn't comment on investigations but that the NCAA was "disappointed with the cavalier way documents -- including confidential interviews -- have been handled by some attorneys involved."

Young was indicted last October in Memphis on a litany of charges related to the Alabama's recruitment of Means. Means signed with the Crimson Tide in 2000 but left school after his high school coach was accused of taking a six-figure bribe to steer him to Alabama.

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