Recruit, Kentucky take a stand against rumor

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Kentucky made a stand against a Chicago Sun-Times story that connected the school with the payment of $200,000 for the commitment of high school prospect Anthony Davis, demanding the paper “withdraw the publication from any source.”

It appears Davis may do the same thing.

The Chicago-area recruit reportedly will sue the paper next week, an attorney representing the family said Thursday. The stories, written by Sun-Times reporter Michael O’Brien, maintain that multiple sources indicate the Davis asked for money. The family says no way. From the Chicago Tribune:

Davis Sr.’s attorney, Georgette L. Greenlee, called the allegations “baseless” and said “this is defamation of character and very harmful.”

“It boggles our mind where (O’Brien) got his information from,” Greenlee told the Tribune on Friday. “We did advise (the Sun-Times) that publishing anything like the story they published today was going to put us in position to have to clarify and put the truth out and be litigious.”

What to believe? Did the family ask and receive money or did the paper make an egregious error by reporting a rumor? Search the web and you’ll find plenty of arguments and rants regarding both sides.

The lawsuit may not have satisfactory ending for those seeking closure to these rumors. Libel suits require plantiffs to prove the report was false and published with the intent to injure reputation, which can be difficult to prove. If O’Brien truly believed his sources were giving him accurate information, everything’s at a standstill. (A settlement would seem more likely.)

But it’s also interesting to see Kentucky go on the offense with these charges.

The school’s dealt with improper benefits to recruits in the past and while John Calipari’s never been found in violation of NCAA rules, the public perception of the coach is fare from squeaky clean. We saw as much earlier this summer with the Eric Bledsoe allegations.

Now they’re fed up and are apparently tired of dealing with rumor and innuendo, which means any detractors may want to start treading carefully. As Mike DeCourcy writes, “That Kentucky chose to respond in this circumstance was a clear declaration journalists will need stronger weapons than “rumors” if they’re going to engage the Wildcats.”

Mike Miller’s also on Twitter @BeyndArcMMiller, usually talkin’ hoops. Click here for more.