Judge: Not Dismissing Lawsuit Against Sports Illustrated "Dirty Game" Reporters

Wednesday, November 18th 2015, 7:10 pm
By: News 9

A federal judge has denied the motion to dismiss a lawsuit brought against Time Inc. and Sports Illustrated reporters George Dohrmann and Thayer Evans by Fellowship of Christian Athletes regional director John Talley.

It’s been two years since Sports Illustrated published “The Dirty Game,” a five-part series on alleged improprieties within Oklahoma State’s football program. Talley made it into Part 1: The Money, where Sports Illustrated claimed he grossly overpaid players and compensated them for work they didn’t do.

9/10/13 Related Story: SI Article Accuses John Talley Of Overpaying Players

An NCAA investigation found Sports Illustrated’s claims “fundamentally unfounded,” and OSU ended up with one year probation, $8,500 in fines, suspension of the Orange Pride program and university-imposed recruiting restrictions. The end result was a few Level II violations, none relating to John Talley.

10/21/14 Related Story: Allegations Of Misconduct In Football Program "Unfounded"

But, he had been called out by name and portrayed as an illegal booster. Talley and Tulsa attorney Gary Richardson filed the lawsuit last year claiming the reporters knowingly misquoted several former Cowboys and painted Talley in a false light.

On Wednesday, District Judge Timothy D. DeGiusti denied the defendants’ motion to dismiss, finding “sufficient factual allegations from which a reasonable inference could be drawn that (Sports Illustrated) published statements about (Talley) in reckless disregard of their probable falsity and the false light in which he would be placed.”

More from the court order: “Reading the statements about (Talley) in context of the SI article, he was falsely identified as a financial booster of the Oklahoma State University football program who paid money or provided subsistence to individual players in violation of NCAA rules. As one example, the article states that quarterback Aso Pogi said he lived on (Talley’s) ranch one summer rent-free and did no work in exchange. (Talley) alleges in the Amended Complaint that ‘Aso Pogi’s remarks were deliberately falsified’ and ‘Pogi made it clear to S.I. during his interview…that, in exchange for that living space, he worked hard performing manual labor’ and ‘it was some of the most physically demanding work he had ever done.’”

Richardson said Wednesday’s result is “one we expected and we’re very excited to move forward and begin our discovery process.”

Talley continues working for FCA. His North Central area contains 32 schools from the Oklahoma/Kansas border nearly to Oklahoma City.