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Vols' Fulmer scheduled to give deposition

Posted: Monday October 4, 2004 5:48PM; Updated: Monday October 4, 2004 5:48PM
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- After fighting to avoid giving a deposition, Tennessee coach Phillip Fulmer is scheduled to be questioned by attorneys for a former player who has sued him for defamation.

The attorneys for former Tennessee player and Alabama recruit Kenny Smith and his mother set Fulmer's deposition on Nov. 10, according to a notice filed in Knox County Chancery Court on Oct. 1 and obtained by The Associated Press on Monday.

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Fulmer has been connected to several lawsuits stemming from NCAA violations found at Alabama and the information he provided to NCAA investigators in 2000. Alabama was placed on probation in 2002.

Attorneys for two former Tide assistants claim Fulmer conspired with the NCAA to bring down the Alabama football program.

The deposition of Fulmer is part of a separate lawsuit the American Football Coaches Association and the NCAA filed in Knoxville that asks a judge to rule coaches cannot be sued for what they tell investigators.

Fulmer has asked to be included as a plaintiff in that lawsuit.

According to NCAA documents leaked from a federal criminal case involving a former Alabama booster, Fulmer told an NCAA investigator that there were rumors Kenny Smith's mother was involved with Danny Pearman, then an Alabama assistant coach.

Based on that statement, Smith and Vicki Smith Dagnan sued Fulmer and the NCAA in an Alabama court.

"We don't have any intention of asking him a lot of irrelevant questions. I just want to know what moved him to say these things, who told him this if anyone and why he would have said it without having at least contacted somebody to verify it," said Memphis attorney Philip Shanks, who represents the Smiths.

Fulmer did not attend Southeastern Conference media days in Birmingham, Ala., in July at the request of his attorneys to avoid legal entanglements in that state.

A few days later, an Alabama judge dismissed the Smiths' lawsuit, citing a lack of jurisdiction.

Shanks said Pearman talked to Fulmer about the statements and Fulmer apologized to him.

"The coach called him on the telephone and Fulmer admitted making the statement and admitted it was not true and admitted he knew it wasn't true," Shanks said.

Fulmer declined to comment Monday afternoon at practice.

Tommy Gallion, attorney for former Tide assistants Ronnie Cottrell and Ivy Williams, who were implicated in the NCAA investigation, wanted to subpoena Fulmer to get him to talk about what he told the NCAA and other topics.

Cottrell and Williams have filed a $60 million lawsuit against the NCAA.

Tennessee has an off date the week the deposition has been scheduled.

"We tried to schedule a time that was most convenient to Mr. Fulmer," Shanks said. "A lot of folks thought we were going to do it during the Alabama week, but we're not trying to do this for purposes of trying to incite trouble."

Athletic director Mike Hamilton referred questions about the deposition to university attorneys, who didn't immediately return calls for comment.

Fulmer's attorney Jeff Hagood also didn't return a call.

Gallion will not be one of the attorneys questioning Fulmer, Shanks said. Shanks didn't want to identify the attorneys from Knoxville and Memphis who would be involved.

Copyright 2004 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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