skip to main content
Feb 19, 2002

Prominent Attorney to Take on Bama Case

Featuring: Robert T. Cunningham

Robert Cunningham Jr. says he looks forward to arguing appeal of sanctions against Crimson Tide football program 


By JOHN CAMERON 
Assistant Managing Editor Sports 


Prominent Mobile lawyer Robert Cunningham Jr. has joined the University of Alabama legal team that will appeal the National Collegiate Athletic Association's tough sanctions against the football program. 

Cunningham and his firm -- Cunningham, Bounds, Yance, Crowder and Brown of Mobile -- gained wide attention in December, 2000 by winning a $3.5 billion damage award for the state of Alabama against Exxon Mobil. The case, which is on appeal, concerned state charges that the company had underpaid on royalties from offshore gas leases. 

Cunningham said late Monday that he has a lot to learn about the Alabama football case but looks forward to it. 

University President Andrew Sorensen announced Monday in Tuscaloosa that Cunningham had been retained. He pointed out that Cunningham brings vast experience as an effective litigator. 

Cunningham said he and his firm would insist on representing Alabama without compensation, which is known as pro bono. 

On Feb. 1, after Alabama had self-imposed a penalty including the loss of 15 scholarships over a three-year period for alleged recruiting violations, the NCAA Committee on Infractions further hammered the Crimson Tide. The panel mandated a loss of five more scholarships, a two-year ban on bowls and an overall scholarship reduction to 80 (down from 85) for the next three years. 

On Feb. 15, the school filed notice with the NCAA that it was appealing. The appeal goes to the Committee on Infractions, the same panel that originally decided what the penalty would be. 

"The university has admitted mistakes and has accepted the proposition that some reasonable punishment is in order but instead of reasonable punishment, the NCAA has dropped the guillotine around our neck and wants us to thank them for not imposing the death penalty," Cunningham said. 

Cunningham said he sat across the table from Sorensen on Saturday and the president looked him in the eye and said he wanted no expenses spared in the appeal. Sorensen, in previous statements, has called the punishment "inappropriate" because of the close cooperation the university gave the NCAA in its investigation. The NCAA has acknowledged that cooperation. 

Cunningham also met with university attorneys Glenn Powell and Stan Murphy on Saturday as well as with Mal Moore, athletics director. 

"It has been our intention from the beginning to vigorously appeal this ruling and Robert Cunningham came to the forefront," Moore said. "His addition to our current team will certainly enhance our ability in this case. Make no mistake about it, we all recognize the significance of this appeal to our program, our fans and the people of Alabama." 

Cunningham, who went to Marion Military Institute before joining the Marine Corps in 1965, was wounded while flying combat missions in Vietnam. 

Following Marine Corps duty, he received his undergraduate degree from the University of South Alabama and finished law school at the University of Florida. 

As for representing the university, Cunningham said he considers it a privilege and an honor. "My son graduated from Alabama and my firm has a strong personal commitment to this institution." 

He said he was astounded that the NCAA is putting so much emphasis on a 1999 basketball case which was self-reported to the NCAA by the university and resolved quickly with close cooperation between the school and the agency and resulted in the firing of an assistant coach. 

"Our firm intends to aggressively advocate the university's very sound arguments supporting, at a minimum, a reduction in the sanctions and penalties," he said. "We will devote all of the talent at our disposal as we work with the university to achieve a just outcome." 

Cunningham said it would be a mistake for Alabama fans and others interested in this case not to realize that the school faces a difficult uphill battle. 

"Nevertheless, this great university has never backed away from adversity and neither has our law firm," he said. "We relish this challenge." 

After notifying the NCAA of its plans to appeal the penalties last Friday, the school is awaiting transcripts of a November hearing on the charges. After receiving the transcripts, the school has 30 days to file an appeal. 

In addition to Powell and Murphy, the university's legal team also includes Rich Hilliard, a former employee of the NCAA. 

Lawyer Involved

Related Case

Pro Bono Defense of Crimson Tide against NCAA Sanctions

University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa

Robert Cunningham led the firm's pro bono representation of the University of Alabama in its 2002 fight against the NCAA sanctioning of the Crimson...

Related News

Sep 30, 2002

Infractions appeal: University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa

The NCAA News  The NCAA Division I Infractions Appeals Committee has upheld all findings and penalties involving the football program at the...

Sep 19, 2002

UA legal appeal unlikely

Officials say it’s time to move on; school won’t file lawsuit  By Steve Reeves  tuscaloosanews.com  TUSCALOOSA | Univ...

Sep 18, 2002

UA officials not off hook

Commentary by RAY MELICK  BIRMINGHAM POST-HERALD  TUSCALOOSA — On the one hand, it doesn't make any sense. How do you penalize th...

Sep 18, 2002

Tide fans angered over outcome

By IAN GUERIN  BIRMINGHAM POST-HERALD  Alabama fans will continue to be Crimson Tide supporters, regardless of what the NCAA Division ...

Sep 18, 2002

Tide gets no relief from NCAA

The Birmingham News  STEVE KIRK and STEVE IRVINE  News staff writers  TUSCALOOSA An exhaustive investigation into the University o...

Sep 18, 2002

Players: time to move on

By GREG WALLACE  BIRMINGHAM POST-HERALD  TUSCALOOSA — Over. Finished. Done. No question, no doubt, nothing more to say.  Th...

Sep 18, 2002

Booster says he is victim in probe

By IAN GUERIN  BIRMINGHAM POST-HERALD  Logan Young, the former University of Alabama booster accused by the NCAA of paying money to a h...

Sep 18, 2002

Arguments fell on deaf ears

GREG WALLACE  BIRMINGHAM POST-HERALD  TUSCALOOSA — At every turn, the NCAA Infractions Appeals Committee had an answer.  Ea...

Sep 18, 2002

Alabama's reaction to NCAA appeal

The Crimson White (online)  By Alex Merritt  Assistant Sports Editor  September 18, 2002  The NCAA Committee on Infractions a...

Sep 18, 2002

Alabama exhausts appeals of penalty

By THOMAS MURPHY  Sports Reporter Mobile Register  TUSCALOOSA -- University of Alabama officials and the university's legal team fumed ...

Sep 17, 2002

University of Alabama responses to the appeal decision

tuscaloosanews.com  Statements concerning today's NCAA Infractions Appeals Committee Ruling, from University of Alabama Interim President J....

Sep 17, 2002

Sanctions stand

By Cecil Hurt  tuscaloosanews.com  TUSCALOOSA | The NCAA Infractions Appeals Committee on Tuesday pointedly rejected the University of ...

Sep 17, 2002

NCAA upholds sanctions against Alabama

from ESPN.com  Associated Press  TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- The NCAA rejected Alabama's request that it ease sanctions against the football pr...

Sep 17, 2002

NCAA Division I infractions appeals committee upholds penalties against University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa

tuscaloosanews.com  INDIANAPOLIS---The NCAA Division I Infractions Appeals Committee upheld all findings and penalties involving the footbal...

Sep 17, 2002

Former University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, assistant football coach public infractions appeals committee report

NCAA news release  CONTACT:  Terry Don Phillips  NCAA Infractions Appeals Committee  INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA  This repo...

Sep 17, 2002

Appeals committee does not come to rescue

By Tom Farrey  ESPN.com  As a vast, member-driven organization, the NCAA can be an impossible creature to fathom. Initiatives ebb and f...

Aug 25, 2002

UA didn't get equal protection under the law from the NCAA

tuscaloosanews.com  Any discussion of the University of Alabama’s appeal of the sanctions handed down by the NCAA for football recruit...

Aug 23, 2002

UA attacks sanctions as unfair

Alabama appeal based on contention that heavy sanctions are unprecedented and inappropriate for the violations committed  By THOMAS MURPHY&n...

Aug 23, 2002

Wrangling with confidentiality and credibility

By Cecil Hurt  tuscaloosanews.com  There has already been far too much “death penalty" rhetoric connected with the University of ...

Aug 17, 2002

Tide states its case

School will release information about NCAA appeal next week  By PAUL GATTIS  Huntsville Times Sports Staff paulg@htimes.com  TUS...

Aug 17, 2002

Still uphill for UA

Mobile attorney Robert Cunningham feels Alabama's appeal of NCAA punishment went well but says school still faces 'difficult challenge' in getting...

Aug 16, 2002

UA to Appeal for Leniency

Alabama officials get long-awaited hearing before NCAA appeals panel today with goal of reducing sanctions  By THOMAS MURPHY  Sports Re...

Aug 16, 2002

Alabama lawyers say hearing went well

By Cecil Hurt  Sports Editor  Tidesports.com presented by the Tuscaloosa News  CHICAGO | Robert "Bobo" Cunningham, who served as l...

Aug 15, 2002

Alabama seeks final judgment

STEVE KIRK and STEVE IRVINE  News staff writers  The Birmingham News  A University of Alabama defense team leaves today for Chica...

Aug 14, 2002

NCAA Hearing Won’t Provide Easy Answers

TideSports.com  By Cecil Hurt  Preparations are complete. The long practice sessions and strategy meetings are done. A daunting task re...

Aug 04, 2002

Hope for Bama?

By THOMAS MURPHY  Sports Reporter  While the Mobile lawyer handling the University of Alabama's appeal has conceded it will be tough f...

Feb 19, 2002

UA Adds Attorney for NCAA fight

By Cecil Hurt  TideSports.com  TUSCALOOSA - The University of Alabama has added an attorney from one of the state’s most noted l...

Feb 19, 2002

Prominent Attorney Joins Tide’s Appeal

from the Montgomery Advertiser Digital Edition  MOBILE – A lawyer known for getting a record $3.5 billion in a case against Exxon Mobi...

Feb 18, 2002

Robert Cunningham, Jr. Joins Tide Legal Team for Appeal

RollTide.com  TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- University of Alabama President Andrew Sorensen announced today that Robert Cunningham, Jr., of the Mobile...

Better Business Bureau Accredited Business

1601 DAUPHIN STREET, MOBILE, AL 36604
1-251-471 6191 TOLL FREE 1-800-472-6191 contact@cunninghambounds.com

Cunningham Bounds LLC Circle Logo
Website developed and designed by Cubicle Fugitive