What I am about to write is blasphemy. Not to my fandom, not to my alma mater, but to my profession; here goes. Sometimes, maybe even most times, the best course of action in life is to stay out of court. Stay out of family court, stay out of civil court, and for God’s sake, stay out of criminal court. So, when I receive the questions about suing for this, or is that illegal, I am torn. Because the answer in life is usually that, “yes, you can sue for that” or “yes that could be construed as illegal.” But the reality is that when the lawyers get involved, everybody loses. This was true when S.I.’s Michael Rosenberg wrote his piece about U of L, and it was still true when S.I.’s legal analyst rattled off all the potential legal ramifications of Louisville’s involvement in the Wakeyleaks scandal.
With a Twitter handle of @villesportslaw, I confess that I am part of the problem. One of the ways I found most of you was to provide legal analysis on the litany of issues in the world of sports. Specifically, and unfortunately, my analysis of the legal issues involving U of L in the world of sports helped me gain followers on Twitter, a log in and password for this fine site, and several radio appearances on ESPN 680 shows over the last two years. So when confronted with the inevitable questions about “can so and so sue for such and such,” I realize that I bare at least some responsibility for that thought process. Here’s the reality; legal intervention should be the absolute LAST resort in almost all circumstances, including U of L sports.
A quick review of my timeline from last night has questions being asked about charges of receiving stolen intellectual property, other civil litigation claims and penalties, and even the potential of racketeering charges against the parties involved. I mean seriously? Not trying to gloss over the seriousness of the allegation, nor soft selling potential legal issues, but the notion that anyone would ever face criminal charges over something like this Wakeyleaks case is just absurd. The reality is that we live in a Judge Judy, John Grisham driven world, where everything is analyzed under the lens of a potential day in court. You want my best legal advice? Slow down.
That is not to say that there is never a reason for well thought out legal analysis; there is. When there are allegations of criminal charges, like the Chris Jones case, or potential criminal charges like the Katina Powell matter, having someone step in and address the legal consequences, and describe the process makes everyone more informed. If there is civil litigation that has been filed, such as was the case with the de-valuing of the U of L degree in the aftermath of the basketball case, having an attorney break that down is wise as well. It is in those times that I enjoy providing some clarity to the situation. In the Wakeyleaks case, we aren’t there yet.
Now, this is not to say that the questions about legal consequences are a problem. If you have a question, I am happy to answer it, or to at least try. My only request is that we all slow down with respect to our rush to the courthouse. Right now, U of L athletics is dealing in the court of public opinion and quite frankly, they are getting their ass kicked. Scandal fatigue is real. Unfortunately, Louisville’s national public image ranks up there with Vladimir Putin and Wisconsin District Attorney Ken Kratz. Not only is the national perception slanted, but some long time Louisville fans are wavering in their support as well. Talk radio is lit, Tim Sullivan is relevant, and Matt Jones is giddy. All in all, this makes for a relatively miserable time to be a Cardinal fan.
For my part, as a fan, not a lawyer, I am tired of it. Not because THIS scandal is such a big deal, but because of the cumulative nature of it all. Maybe it’s just that it’s 2016 and most everything associated with this year in general, and Louisville athletics specifically, (Lamar’s Heisman notwithstanding) has sucked. Maybe it is pride, or maybe I am just getting old. All of these are real possibilities. If I could undo it, I would. That said, I cannot undo it and all that is left is to either embrace the villain role, or to temper my attitude with respect to Louisville athletics moving forward. I choose the latter. If there is a crime committed here, it is the cumulative assault on the fan base. For that, there is no courthouse that can provide relief, not that you should be looking to run there anyway.
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