Houston Nutt Subpoenaed In Lawsuit

Wednesday, April 25th 2007, 7:28 pm
By: News On 6

LITTLE ROCK (AP) _ Arkansas football coach Houston Nutt has been subpoenaed as part of a lawsuit brought by a Montgomery County resident over an e-mail one of Nutt's family friends sent former Razorback Mitch Mustain.

The university called the suit ``frivolous.''

``It is disappointing that more university resources and taxpayer dollars will be expended to address rumors and accusations involving the athletic department,'' the school said in a statement.

John David Terry, 42, of Montgomery County has sued Chancellor John A. White and system President B. Alan Sugg, saying the school did not sufficiently investigate a harsh e-mail sent to Mustain by booster Teresa Prewett. Prewett sent the e-mail to Mustain in December, with a copy to an e-mail address registered to Nutt's family. The suit was filed in Washington County Circuit Court.

Nutt later gave Prewett, a family friend, an official reprimand and barred her from the sidelines during games. He has said he did not initially know about the e-mail, but some fans have speculated otherwise. Nutt's cell phone records have been obtained by fans and media under Arkansas' Freedom of Information Act, and Terry's lawsuit notes contact among Houston Nutt, his brother and running backs coach Danny Nutt and Prewett around the time Mustain received the e-mail.

Prewett has said Houston and Danny Nutt had nothing to do with the e-mail _ and that her communication with them was regarding a death in Houston Nutt's family.

Mustain is set to transfer to Southern California after starting eight games at quarterback for Arkansas last season. The Razorbacks went 10-4.

Mustain's mother, Beck Campbell, said she doesn't know Terry. She declined comment on the lawsuit.

Terry's attorney, Eddie Christian Jr. of Fort Smith, said his client is an Arkansas fan, and the complaint identifies Terry as an Arkansas graduate. Christian said Terry wanted him to handle public comments regarding the case.

Christian said Terry's suit is a ``taxpayer action.''

``It's more or less that there's a waste of taxpayer money here,'' Christian said. ``We are alleging that public officials _ and the one in particular that we are alleging is John White _ has not carried out his contractual obligations that he owes to the university and to the taxpayers.''

The university said it would not discuss details of pending litigation, beyond the statement it released. The subpoena sets a May 14 date for Nutt's deposition, although Nutt's personal attorney, Byron Freeland, said he does not expect that to happen.

``I would be very surprised if he's giving a deposition on May 14,'' Freeland said. ``The lawsuit is totally without any legal basis, and I think it'll be dismissed. ... I would expect that the counsel for the university will file a motion to dismiss, and I expect it to be dismissed.''

The subpoena also includes a list of materials for Nutt to turn over, including computer hard drives, documents, phone records and notes of telephone conversations. Freeland said he believes exposing Nutt to this type of discovery process is the primary motivation behind the lawsuit.

``It absolutely is being done just to try to get some discovery, and it has no legal basis whatsoever,'' Freeland said. ``It's unbelievable that somebody would file it.''

Christian said the case is based in part on NCAA regulations his client believes Arkansas has violated. One rule cited in the complaint says a school must maintain a positive relationship with its athletes. Another rule cited says individuals employed by the school must have moral values that are ``so certain and positive that those younger and more pliable will be influenced by a fine example.''

``If the University of Arkansas is bound to follow the mandatory regulations of the NCAA, and John White fails to ensure that the university is following the NCAA regulations, he's in breach of his contract,'' Christian said.

Christian was asked who the court should believe if his interpretation of NCAA rules appears different than the NCAA's interpretation.

``That may very well be a determination that the court has to make in this case,'' Christian said.

Terry's complaint outlines possible remedies, including an injunction preventing Sugg from using public funds to funds to pay White's salary, and an injunction preventing Sugg or White from using public funds to pay salaries of football coaches who ``are failing, or have failed, to carry out their mandatory contractual obligations.''

The complaint also calls on the school ``to conduct a good faith, full, complete, and independent investigation into the incidents of harassment directed toward the student-athlete as described.''