U. Md.’s ex-athletic director paid lawyers after football players got in trouble

WASHINGTON — New questions are being raised about the internal workings of the athletic department at the University of Maryland, College Park, following a controversial payment for legal representation of two football players at the school.

The money was spent last year to help defend two players accused of sexual misconduct. A university disciplinary process resulted in both players being punished, with one of them expelled.

The other player left the school. In all, about $15,000 was spent from a discretionary account that was controlled by then athletic director Kevin Anderson. The money spent was not taxpayer dollars, according to The Washington Post.

The story was first reported by the school newspaper, The Diamondback.

In a lengthy statement released by the school last night, it admits that Anderson hired the law firm without the administration’s approval, and that protocols were not followed. It also accuses Anderson, without ever using his name, of disobeying that order. An internal investigation was subsequently launched to find out why, though the results will not be made public.

The school said the sexual misconduct case was fair and impartial, and acknowledged that legal representation is common. It also said no NCAA rules were violated.

Donald Jackson, who heads the law firm that was hired, an Alabama-based firm known as The Sports Group, released a statement on his Facebook page responding to details first presented by The Diamondback, which is the independent student newspaper at Maryland.

He said, “Notably, this article contains numerous factual inaccuracies that were meant to paint Kevin Anderson in an unflattering and (I believe) false light. Mr. Anderson did not retain TSG, did not negotiate terms of our engagement and (to my knowledge) did not authorize payment. As a matter of fact, I (personally) had minimal interaction with Mr. Anderson during the pendency of this matter.”

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