Appeals court upholds dismissal of McAdoo lawsuit

The Associated Press

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RALEIGH — The N.C. Court of Appeals on Tuesday upheld a lower court ruling dismissing former Tar Heel football player Michael McAdoo's lawsuit against the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill and the NCAA.

The NCAA declared McAdoo permanently ineligible to play college football for receiving improper benefits from a prospective sports agent.

In his 2011 lawsuit, McAdoo said his right to due process was violated when he was disqualified from college athletics for a separate infraction, an NCAA ruling that he improperly benefited from a tutor's help on term papers in three courses. The university reported McAdoo to the NCAA.

The three-judge appeals panel ruled unanimously that McAdoo had no valid claim for financial damages.

"First, McAdoo has not sustained any 'injury in fact' because his scholarship was never terminated," said Appeals Judge Robert N. Hunter Jr., writing for the court. "Second, plaintiff has accomplished the goal he sought to achieve_playing in the NFL."

McAdoo is listed as a reserve linebacker for the Baltimore Ravens who played in two games this season before sustaining an injury.

Because the ruling was 3-0, McAdoo does not have the right of an automatic appeal to the N.C. Supreme Court. McAdoo can still file a petition for discretionary review by the high court, but such petitions are typically not successful.

McAdoo's attorney, Noah Huffstetler of Raleigh, said his client is disappointed by the decision.

"We think it's an important case for Michael and similarly situated athletes whose rights are overlooked by the NCAA and its member institutions," Huffstetler said.

During oral arguments before the court in September, Huffstetler told the judges that McAdoo's disqualification harmed his pro prospects, resulting in a contract paying him the current league minimum of $465,000 for a second-year player.

Attorneys for UNC and the NCAA argued that students can't claim a right to play college football. McAdoo's decision to leave school for the NFL negated his claim that losing his college eligibility would affect his professional prospects, attorneys said.

UNC spokeswoman Karen Moon said Tuesday that the university would not comment on the ruling.

McAdoo was one of seven players forced to miss all of the 2010 college football season during the NCAA investigation into improper benefits and academic misconduct within the Tar Heels program. The probe led to the firing of head coach Butch Davis and the early departure of Dick Baddour as athletic director.

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