A distinguished sports activities and anti-trust legal professional means that Robert Morris College might have violated Pennsylvania regulation within the elimination of its males’s and girls’s hockey applications.
USCHO.com has obtained a duplicate of a letter to Robert Morris College president Dr. Chris Howard by which legal professional Jeffrey L. Kessler wrote that “The College’s concealment of its plan to remove the boys’s and girls’s hockey groups is a fraudulent misrepresentation underneath Pennsylvania regulation.”
Kessler is representing a “coalition” of Robert Morris males’s and girls’s hockey gamers in an effort to have the applications reinstated.
Kessler is a associate within the New York Metropolis regulation agency of Winston & Strawn and has represented shoppers in a number of high-profile circumstances, together with as lead plaintiff within the latest unanimous Supreme Courtroom of america resolution that the NCAA was violating antitrust regulation by limiting the education-related advantages that faculties can present athletes.
Kessler additionally efficiently represented Tom Brady in overturning the Nationwide Soccer League’s four-game “Deflategate” suspension of the then-New England Patriots quarterback. Kessler has represented gamers’ associations in a number of main skilled sports activities.
Within the letter – which was additionally copied to vice chairman and athletic director Chris King, the Robert Morris College board of trustees, and Renee T. Cavalovitch, RMU vice chairman and normal counsel, amongst others – Kessler acknowledged that his shoppers would slightly keep away from litigation and as an alternative search to place a plan in place to revive the applications.
“To that finish, they invite the College to interact in quick discussions with the coalition in order that the events can work collectively to resolve this matter amicably,” Kessler wrote.
The letter means that the choice to remove the applications, which was introduced on Might 26, 2021, had been within the works in secret, characterizing it as “a prolonged and covert course of.”
“It seems that the College surreptitiously deliberate to cancel these applications for an prolonged time frame earlier than revealing this plan to both the adversely impacted athletes and even all members of the Board of Trustees,” Kessler wrote.
“Certainly, the student-athletes and recruits had been left totally at the hours of darkness and had been thus induced to depend on the false representations of the College concerning the purportedly brilliant way forward for their varsity applications. This example places the College vulnerable to important authorized publicity except the varsity standing of the hockey groups is maintained.”
Kessler famous that the dearth of transparency by Robert Morris College was detrimental to student-athletes who would in any other case have had different choices.
“The concealment of the plans to remove the varsity hockey applications, even from Board members, was made by senior RMU management regardless that they knew that this info was extremely materials to the affected student-athletes’ educational, athletic, and monetary decision-making processes — i.e., whether or not to enroll or stay at Robert Morris or to just accept or search admission to a different college which might keep its varsity hockey program,” Kessler wrote.
“When the College lastly revealed the devastating information that it will be cancelling its varsity hockey applications, it did so at a time when it knew it will be too late for lots of the affected student-athletes to switch and proceed their varsity athletic careers at one other establishment. This deliberate lack of transparency has prompted the student-athletes substantial hurt, which will probably be irreparable if the College doesn’t reverse course and reinstate the groups.”
Kessler cites a number of situations by which gamers and recruits met with coaches on the boys’s group in March and with ladies’s gamers a number of days earlier than the Might announcement that the applications can be discontinued.
The letter states that whereas Robert Morris College agreed to proceed offering scholarships for displaced student-athletes, the college pressured college students to graduate early, “together with by registering a few of them for summer season courses with out their data or consent.”
In one other letter obtained by USCHO.com, an extra request for info has been submitted on behalf of a former participant by an Ohio regulation agency, stating that the choice to drop hockey was “surreptitiously deliberate.”
The letter requests:
1. All correspondence with the NCAA concerning males’s and girls’s ice hockey for the final two years;
2. All correspondence with the athletic division for the final two years;
3. All data concerning donations to any NCAA faculty sport group over the past 5
4. All data and correspondence concerning the boys’s observe group for the final 5 years;
5. All cellphone data of Dr. Howard for the final two years;
6. All e-mails of Dr. Howard for the final two years;
7. Any and all social media accounts monitored and/or maintained by RMU referring to males’s and girls’s hockey.
Jonathan Potts, vice chairman of public relations and advertising and marketing at Robert Morris College, responded to USCHO.com by e-mail with a short assertion. “We’ve obtained the letter from Mr. Kessler, and it’s underneath overview.”