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Fired Professor Sues North Alabama Over NCAA Violations

December 30, 1995

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) _ A former dean at North Alabama has sued the school president, claiming he was fired in part because he exposed possible NCAA rules violations in the football program, which won three straight Division II championships.

Fred Alexander filed suit in federal court in Birmingham seeking damages related to his dismissal in April 1993. Alexander claims in the lawsuit that he was fired after pointing out discrepancies in the school’s awarding of financial aid to athletes.

Alexander’s attorney, Claudia Pearson of Birmingham, said she would not allow her client to comment until he gives his deposition Feb. 7.

In the lawsuit, Alexander claims that North Alabama president Robert Potts tried to force him to sign a false affidavit regarding the conduct of a fellow employee. Alexander refused.

In April 1993, Alexander said he brought to Potts’ attention the possible financial aid improprieties. Shortly thereafter, the lawsuit claims, Alexander, 60, was told he would be fired if he did not resign.

University vice president Thomas Lovett said school officials believed that Alexander’s depature resulted from a ``mutual understanding.″

``This is the first suit filed by any employee alleging employment discrimination of any type in the nearly six years Potts has been the president of UNA,″ Lovett said.

Potts was out of town and unavailable for comment, sports information director Jeff Hodges said.

On Tuesday, the NCAA accepted North Alabama’s proposed penalties for awarding grants to football and baseball players without counting them against the athletic limits for scholarships. In addition to six scholarships already lost in 1994-95, the football program will be docked the equivalent of 23 scholarships over the next four years.

The baseball team will lose about two scholarships a year for seven years, plus a fraction of a scholarship in the eighth year.

Alexander claims in the lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Alabama in October, that he was fired without cause and given no notice. He is seeking unspecified damages.

``This is not a young man,″ Pearson said. ``He has not been able to find another job. He is seeking damages for what essentially is a forced retirement.″

Pretrial proceedings before U.S. District Judge Sharon Blackburn are scheduled for April 1. Trial is scheduled for July 15.

North Alabama defeated Pittsburg State, Kan., 27-7 Dec. 9 for its third straight Division II championship. The Lions’ national titles will not be affected by the NCAA sanctions.

The Lions became the first college football team to win 40 games in three years, posting a 41-1 record.

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