CHN Staff Report
The fight to preserve the Robert Morris men’s and women’s hockey programs reached a new phase this week, with word that a coalition of players are now being represented by power attorney Jeffrey Kessler.
Kessler recently led the 9-0 Supreme Court victory against the NCAA, in which it was ruled that college athletes were having their ability to earn certain forms of compensation being unlawfully restricted. He also represented NFL star Tom Brady in the “deflategate” case, and is part of the legal team representing the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team and NFL and NBA players’ associations.
Kessler also represented athletes at Stanford, where 11 sports were scheduled to be cut. The school later reinstated those programs under pressure of two lawsuits.
According to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, Kessler wrote a letter to Robert Morris’ administration informing them of his representation, and listing the ways in which the school may have legal liability for its decision. The coalition of players is approximately 30 players, the report said.
The Robert Morris Board of Trustees dropped a surprise decision in late May, deciding to cut men’s and women’s hockey. The announcement came without any warning to the coaches and players involved.
“We hope (now) they will proceed to work together with the coalition to immediately restore the teams so that it won’t be necessary to pursue any further action,” Kessler told the Tribune-Review.
In the letter from Kessler to RMU, obtained by the Tribune-Review, Kessler wrote, “This secrecy induced the student-athletes to believe that their teams would continue, and they relied upon this misrepresentation in making their decisions to attend the University in the first place, as well as to remain at the school without seeking a possible transfer. … They passed on transfer opportunities. Some decided to come to the school on false pretenses. And this failure to disclose what we call ‘material information’ is unlawful in Pennsylvania.”
Another charge that has been alleged in the weeks since the announcement, is that school president Christopher Howard rammed a vote through without proper procedures being followed.
Ohio attorney Kevin Spellacy has also gotten involved with representing at least one player in the case. His son, Aidan, was a member of the RMU men’s team last year. He also sent a letter to RMU requesting all correspondence between Howard and the athletic department, including email, phone records and more.
“The hope of these athletes, the families and alumni is not to have a lawsuit. It’s to have a resolution,” Kessler told the Tribune-Review. “But if the university is determined to have a fight, then I don’t see that these athletes and their families are going to back down from a fight.”
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