Judge: Kentucky owes nothing to ex-assistant Bassett
LEXINGTON, Ky. -- Kentucky owes nothing to a former assistant football coach who claimed the school's athletic department defrauded him after he resigned amid recruiting violations, a federal judge ruled Tuesday.
In a 25-page ruling, U.S. District Judge Joseph Hood called Claude Bassett's case "ludicrous" and granted the university's request for it to be dropped before trial even begins.
Other charges had already been dismissed in Bassett's $50 million lawsuit against the school, the Southeastern Conference and the NCAA. All that remains is Bassett's claim that the NCAA interfered with his future contract negotiations, and the NCAA is trying to get that charge dismissed.
University spokesman Jay Blanton said he was pleased by the dismissal.
"It has been the university's firm position all along that there was no merit to Mr. Bassett's case, and Judge Hood's ruling clearly affirmed that," Blanton said.
Bassett resigned in November 2000, shortly before the NCAA began investigating Kentucky. In 2002, the NCAA placed the school on probation, banned it from a bowl game and ordered the Wildcats to forfeit 19 scholarships because of more than three dozen recruiting violations committed between 1998 and 2000.
Bassett, who acknowledged breaking NCAA recruiting rules, was found in violation of ethical conduct bylaws and banned from working for another school for eight years. But Bassett claimed he resigned with the assurance there would be no further investigation, and that the school's action prevented him from landing another coaching job.
Hood said the argument was absurd because it would require the university to commit further NCAA violations by covering up his role.
"This court refuses to condone plaintiff's ludicrous efforts to bind the [University of Kentucky athletics association] to agree to breach its obligations to the NCAA and conceal plaintiff's numerous rules infractions," he wrote.
Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press