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Keller, NCAA lawyers make closing arguments

Posted by David Brewer November 28, 2007 2:38 PM

SCOTTSBORO - A lawyer for a former University of Alabama booster Ray Keller told a jury this afternoon that it can send a message to the National Collegiate Athletic Association that words can hurt people.

"You have the power to use powerful words to (tell) the NCAA to stop defaming people," Scottsboro attorney Don Word told the jury in his hour-long closing argument.

Retired Circuit Judge William Gordon of Montgomery was expected to instruct the jury at 2 p.m. of its responsibilities prior to beginning its deliberations in Keller's defamation suit against the NCAA.

The jury of nine women and five men, including two alternates, has listened to six weeks of testimony in the case.

Keller, who is also suing the NCAA for invasion of privacy, sued the association for describing him and two other boosters in a 2002 press conference as "rogue," "pariah" and parasites." He is asking the jury to award him $35.5 million from the NCAA, including more than $500,000 in financial losses and $20 million in punitive damages.

NCAA attorney Allen Dodd told the jury this morning in his closing remarks that it can send the message that it will not pay people who cheat.

The NCAA reported that Keller violated serious rules in the University of Alabama's recruitment of former North Jackson High football standout Kenny Smith Jr., beginning in 1995.

Dodd said there are rules for running "a clean college football program."

Word said the NCAA violated its own rules by using a confidential witness in its investigation into recruitment violations.

Even if the association proved its case, he said, Keller did not deserve to be characterized as he was.

"There are worse things than personal injury," Word told the jury. "What the NCAA did in 2002...destroyed (Keller's) reputation."

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Keller tried the "I am rubber and you are glue" strategy to which the NCAA used the "sticks and stones" defense.

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