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Austin Scott's Lawsuit Against Penn State Is a Fumble Waiting to Happen

MIAMI GARDENS, FL - JANUARY 3:  Austin Scott #33 of the Penn State Nittany Lions looks on during the 72nd Fed Ex Orange Bowl against the Florida State Seminoles at Dolphins Stadium on January 3, 2005 in Miami Gardens, Florida. Penn State defeated Florida State 26-23 in triple overtime. (Photo by: Doug Benc/Getty Images)
Daniel McGowinCorrespondent IOctober 16, 2009

Austin Scott is a running back.  And he is looking to get paid!

But he is not attempting to get on an NFL team, or a CFL team, or a UFL team, or even in one of the many European leagues.

No, Austin Scott is trying to get Penn State to pay him!

Do not worry, he is not currently a player for Penn State.  But he is suing the university, along with a host of others, for “mental pain and suffering” and a loss of “earning capacity.”  Hmm.

This all stems from rape allegations that were slapped on Austin in 2007.  The accuser filed the claims on October 12 claiming that she was raped on the morning of October 5, the day before Penn State’s game with Iowa.  Scott was suspended from the team on October 5.

Charges were eventually dropped after the Superior Court in Pennsylvania permitted the cross-examination about a previous 2003 sexual assault case brought forth by the accuser.  In that case, the accuser claimed she was sexually assaulted by a student from another university.  Charges in that case were later dropped.

So the case against Scott was dropped.  With his career at Penn State over (no more eligibility after the 2007 season), he signed with the Cleveland Browns as an undrafted free agent.  After rushing for two total yards on two carries, Scott was cut by the Browns, allegedly for not being able to pick up the offense.

With no “professional” job, and likely no career-worthy degree, he did what anyone would do in that situation—sue!  And the lawsuit seems to be casting a wide net—Centre County prosecutors, PSU law enforcement, the university itself, and the accuser.  Why not throw in El Nino for good measure?

He is seeking $150 million in both compensatory and punitive damages!!!

His attorney, John Karoly, tries to throw down some sympathy and bring on some tears.

"When you think of the blood, sweat, and tears he put in from five years of age until now just to get that one shot and have it destroyed by someone like this is unconscionable.  He’s distraught. That was his entire life."

Well, that makes sense.  Poor kid has worked so hard.  Karoly goes on to claim that Scott “had enjoyed a highly successful career as both a high school and college athlete.  He was slated to be a third or fourth round draft pick for the National Football League.”

Yeah, of course.  It seems that Karoly is an NFL scout during his downtime.  A recreational Mel Kiper.

Good luck with that case, Mr. Frivolous Lawsuit Attorney!  Let’s look at his illustrious career.

First, Scott was an excellent running back in high school.  He set the Pennsylvania state record for single-season rushing yards and touchdowns.  That’s impressive.

But his collegiate career was mediocre at best.  He had a nice freshman season, leading the team with 436 yards.  But he followed that up with 176 yards and 273 yards as a backup.

After redshirting in 2006, he was named the starter for 2007.  However, his numbers through the five games before the suspension were pedestrian—302 yards and six touchdowns.  In fact, backup running back Rodney Kinlaw’s numbers were better (379 yards with two TDs and a better YPC average).  Scott also fumbled the ball four times, losing all four.

In all, Scott ran for 1188 yards while at Penn State.  He was hampered by minor injuries and had minor off the field issues dealing with the coaches and team meetings.

Given his lackluster performance at Penn State, what makes Scott and Karoly believe the former would have been a third or fourth rounder?  Who is to say he would have made the NFL even without the rape charges?

While backup players are sometimes drafted based on potential (see Matt Cassel, Ronnie Brown, Felix Jones), it is still a rare occurrence.  What does Karoly think the NFL should do—ignore his on-field performance at Penn State and consider Scott’s high school numbers?

Karoly claims that Scott carries a “scarlet letter” and that is why both NFL and CFL teams have stayed away from his client.  But there are many players with off the field problems—from Michael Vick to Ray Lewis—who are given second chances.  If you have the talent, then a team is willing to provide another opportunity.

An NFL team gave Scott a chance, but apparently he did not grasp the offense or show any determination to improve.  I would think that the NFL and team scouts are able to judge talent coming into the league.  And apparently, he was not deemed good enough.

In the end, this seems like an attempted cash grab.  I am not stating that this case will be thrown out and that Karoly and Scott have no case.  The legal system is a tricky landmine field and if navigated carefully almost any lawsuit can be ruled favorably (see the McDonald’s hot coffee case).

But it just seems frivolous, especially going after 12 different individuals.

Maybe there should be 13 people named in the lawsuit—Austin Scott.  After all, it seems that his inability to hold on to the football caused him to lose carries prior to his suspension.  I am sure that had something to do with the his diminishing “earning capacity.”

I guess all the blood, sweat, and tears that Scott put in since he was five did not solve his fumble-itis.

Just blame it on the hands!

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