The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

Local News

September 17, 2013

'Bama fan who sued NCAA recounts struggle


Sitting in his office today, at Keller Lumber in Stevenson, Keller looks back and said he felt he had no other choice in suing the NCAA, adding it cost him business deals and smeared his name in his own community.

"They misrepresented the truth," he says. "The sad thing is I'm still disassociated (from Alabama). I'm not wanting to be associated, I just want my name off the bad list."

Keller filed suit in 2004, after he said letters written by his attorney to the NCAA asking for a retraction were ignored.

The case went to trial in 2007, lasting a total of six weeks and going through two judges after the first had a heart attack outside court.

The trial had a little of everything, including former Alabama coach Gene Stallings and sports personality Paul Finebaum, testifying on behalf of Keller.

Keller stayed on the witness stand at least a week and what seemed even longer, battling back and forth with NCAA attorney Allen Dodd of Fort Payne.

At times it was comical. At more times it was draining on everyone involved.

NCAA attorneys depicted Keller as a rabid fan, caught up in Alabama football so much he purposely broke NCAA rules trying to lure the best players to the school.

He was accused of giving "$100 handshakes" to Alabama recruits. Keller contended he was lumped in with boosters Young, of Memphis, Tenn. and Smith, of Chattanooga, Tenn., both now deceased.

To this day, Keller denies any wrongdoing.

"They wanted Logan Young," he says. "They never wanted me. They knew we were friends. He lived in Memphis. I didn't know those kids or coaches."

Following the verdict, the NCAA appealed. In May 2008, a judge threw out the $5 million verdict, ruling jurors reached a verdict through "the product of passion and prejudice."

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