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08-02-2004, 04:06 PM
Judge dismisses Smith lawsuit because of jurisdiction
The Associated Press
August 02, 2004
A state circuit judge Monday dismissed the defamation lawsuit filed against the NCAA, Tennessee coach Phillip Fulmer and others by former Alabama signee Kenny Smith, citing a lack of jurisdiction.
Circuit Judge Scott Donaldson of Tuscaloosa did not rule on the merits of the case, but sided with defendants' claims that the Alabama court lacked jurisdiction because the allegedly defamatory comments were made in Tennessee.
Smith's attorneys contended the suit needs to be heard in Alabama because that's where the allegedly damaged parties reside.
The suit was filed against the NCAA, Fulmer, NCAA investigator Rich Johanningmeier, NCAA spokesman Wally Renfro, NCAA President Myles Brand, the American Football Coaches Association and Tom Culpepper, a recruiting analyst. It asked for $40 million in damages.
"We're not totally surprised by the court's ruling," said Tuscaloosa attorney Delaine Mountain, who is representing Smith and his family. "We knew it was a very close question."
He said no decision had been made on whether to appeal.
The lawsuit stems primarily from a statement Fulmer made to Johanningmeier in 2000 that Smith's mother, Vicki Smith Dagnan, was having an affair with an Alabama assistant. Summaries of that interview became public in January as part of the criminal case against former Alabama booster Logan Young in Memphis.
Kenny Smith, a lineman at Stevenson High in northeast Alabama, failed to qualify academically after signing with Alabama and later went to Tennessee.