Former St. Bonaventure University AD Sues for Libel

May 22, 2004

Former St. Bonaventure University Athletic Director Gothard Lane seethed when the university completed an internal investigation last year, which implicated him for his involvement in the Jamil Terrell eligibility scandal.
Lane called the investigation “a rush to conviction. It wasn’t like we allege this and we’re going to turn it over to the NCAA and let them decide. They came out and said that I was guilty of two NCAA violations.”
Lane bided his time until the NCAA completed its own investigation and found him innocent of any wrongdoing.
Then two weeks ago, he pounced, suing the school in federal court for libel. Lane, who is seeking at least $3 million in damages, claims university officials maliciously damaged his reputation. According to the complaint, Lane contends that he “has suffered mental anguish and has been held up to public score, ridicule and contempt, and has suffered a loss of prestige, respect and standing among his peers.” Since his contract was not renewed a year ago, Lane has been unable to find work, according to his attorney, Buffalo-based Charles Swanekamp.
St. Bonaventure spokesman Dave Ferguson issued the following statement about the litigation: “We believe that the university has acted appropriately and responsibly. We regret that litigation has been commenced, but intend to defend these claims vigorously.”
The university is involved in other litigation as well, brought by former coach Jan van Breda Kolff, who claims he was wrongfully dismissed in April 2003. van Breda Kolff is seeking $21.55 million in damages — $1.55 million for breach of contract, $10 million for defamation, invasion of privacy and injurious lies by St. Bonaventure officials, and $10 million in punitive damages.
van Breda Kolff is now an assistant coach with the NBA’s New Orleans Hornets.


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