The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

Local News

September 17, 2013

'Bama fan who sued NCAA recounts struggle

SCOTTSBORO, Ala. (AP) — On a cool November day, a week past Thanksgiving, a group walked out of the Jackson County Courthouse. Cameras snapped and people gazed as University of Alabama fan Ray Keller, surrounded by a group of attorneys, stepped outside.

Only moments earlier, a jury awarded Keller $5 million in his defamation and invasion of privacy lawsuit against the NCAA. It was the largest judgment from a civil jury in Jackson County history.

It was a good day, in the late fall of 2007, for Keller. For a moment, at least, he had defeated the all-powerful NCAA; wiping away the pain he said the organization has caused him five years earlier.

"I felt like we wasn't even as big as David was against Goliath," Keller said that day. "My legal team fought so hard for me."

Today, the fight is over. And Keller is a man on the outside at 'Bama.

In 2002, in a news conference the NCAA publicly announced its punishment against Alabama for recruiting violations, costing the school scholarship reductions, a two-year bowl ban and five years of probation.

In its infractions report, the NCAA didn't publicly identify Keller, an Alabama booster, nor two other boosters, Logan Young and Wendell Smith, referring to them only as representatives A, B and C. The three boosters were identified in the media.

Alabama, going for a third consecutive national championship this season, was in a different place in 2002, on the brink of the death penalty for repeated violations, according to the NCAA.

As part of its punishment, the school disassociated itself from Keller, Young and Smith.

Keller sued the NCAA, claiming he was slandered and libeled after being referred to as a "rogue booster," ''parasite" and "pariah" during the news conference.

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