Nutt's lawsuit vs. Ole Miss will move to state court
(TSX / STATS) -- A U.S. District Court judge in Mississippi dismissed former Ole Miss football head football coach Houston Nutt's civil lawsuit against the university and its board of trustees on Wednesday.
The two sides agreed the federal court did not have jurisdiction in the case in which Nutt alleges Hugh Freeze -- who has since resigned as head football coach because of an escort scandal -- and athletic director Ross Bjork violated the university's 2011 severance agreement.
Nutt's attorney, Thomas Mars of Little Rock, Ark., told ESPN on Wednesday that he planned to refile the lawsuit in state court.
Ole Miss has been accused of 21 rules violations related to its football program, and university officials are expected to appear in front of the NCAA's committee on infractions later this year.
Nutt's lawsuit alleges that Freeze and Bjork promoted a false storyline that suggested that most of the violations that occurred under Nutt.
In his ruling, U.S. District Judge Neal B. Biggers Jr., wrote: "Defendants argue that jurisdiction is lacking because both the University of Mississippi and the Board of Trustees for Institutions of Higher Learning are arms of the state of Mississippi and, consequently, are not 'citizens' of any state for purposes of diversity jurisdiction.
"In response to the instant motion, the plaintiff concedes that the defendants' argument is meritorious and asserts 'it is agreed that this court lacks subject matter jurisdiction.' The court points out that the claims filed by the plaintiff involve no federal statutes or U.S. Constitution claims and are all state law claims, and therefore, since the issues are not between 'citizens of different states,' the federal court lacks jurisdiction under the pleadings as presented."
Mars said, via ESPN, "Between (Nutt's Mississippi-based attorney) Bubba Morrison saying I'd read too many John Grisham novels and the university's recent decision to fire Hugh Freeze, I concurred with Bubba's suggestion that we oblige Ole Miss, ask the court to grant their jurisdictional motion, and file an updated state court lawsuit next week with more details than those that were known to us when we first filed suit."
Nutt, who was the coach of Ole Miss from 2008 to 2011, alleges in the suit that Freeze, Bjork and sports information director Kyle Campbell "reached an agreement in 2014 to carry out a carefully orchestrated misinformation campaign, the specific purpose of which was to mislead the media, Ole Miss boosters, and potential recruiting prospects about the true nature of the matters that were being investigated by the NCAA."
Nutt tried to obtain an apology from Ole Miss, but when he did not get one, he decided to sue.
Nutt, who currently works as a college football television analyst, is willing to settle the lawsuit if the university apologizes and donates $500,000 to establish a state commission on sports ethics, as well as covering legal fees, according ESPN.
Updated August 10, 2017