ATLANTA — The cash Savannah State’s former football coach Robby Wells got as settlement of his reverse-discrimination lawsuit didn’t end the matter.
Still pending is a separate lawsuit filed by four players Wells recruited who say they were denied the scholarships he promised because they are white. The foursome filed suit July 12 in Federal District Court in Atlanta. Monday, their attorney asked for an extension until the end of the month to file a response to the school’s Nov. 14 request for a dismissal.
The four claim the majority-black university withdrew Wells’ verbal scholarship offers because their race. The state also has a policy to systematically keep SSU majority black, according to the foursome’s attorney, Matthew Billips of Atlanta.
“SSU employs recruitment policies and programs which are affirmatively designed to attract black students and faculty and which have contributed to the continued racial identifiability of SSU,” he wrote.
School officials argue that the players didn’t get scholarship offers because of concerns they wouldn’t have passed the academic standards. In the previous two years, 25 of players Wells gave scholarships wound up off the field for academic reasons.
Their home state was also an issue, rather than their race, according to the school.
Three of the four are from out of state. Wells replacement, Julian Dixon, recognized that scholarships for out-of-state students costs twice as much, and the program was already short of funds because Wells overspent 10 percent of the budget the previous year. Granting them all scholarships would have put the program $60,000 into the red this year, according to the school’s legal briefs.
“There is no legal requirement, NCAA requirement or Board of Regents requirement that a new coach must accept verbal offers extended by a former coach,” wrote the school’s attorney, Eddie Snelling Jr. with the Attorney General’s Office.
The two sides have spent months taking sworn testimony from school administrators, Wells and the players. The state has also submitted more than 2,000 documents that Billips requests.
The request for dismissal Snelling is asking Magistrate Gerrilyn G. Brill to review is 1,414 pages. So, when Billips asked for a little more time to prepare a response to the massive filing, Snelling agreed.