BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Tennessee coach Phillip Fulmer has found the subpoena he was served Thursday at the Southeastern Conference Media Days.
Alabama attorneys representing disassociated Alabama booster Wendell Smith in a defamation suit against the NCAA want to question Fulmer under oath about his role in the investigation of Alabama, which ultimately landed the Crimson Tide on probation earlier this decade.
A process server hired by lawyers for Wendell Smith of Chattanooga, Tenn., approached Fulmer as he stepped out of an SUV outside the suburban hotel where SEC holds its media days, said Brandon Blankenship, an attorney for Smith.
“He said, ‘Coach Fulmer, I’ve got something for you,’ and gave it to him,” said Blankenship, of Birmingham.
Fulmer, who initially denied several times to several different media members that he’d been served a subpoena, issued a statement Wednesday night. He insisted that he wasn’t trying to mislead anybody.
“I do have to be a little bit careful — a lot more than I’d like to be,” Fulmer said in the statement. “I was getting out of the car and was tossed a piece of paper that I picked up, stuck it in with a whole bunch of things that I had been reading on my way in from the airport and handed it to [associate athletic director for media relations] Bud Ford to put in his briefcase and forgot about it. I got a bunch of questions [from the media] about a subpoena that I hadn’t seen.
“I wasn’t expecting a subpoena but maybe every time I go to Birmingham I probably will be expecting a subpoena. As it turns out, it’s some sort of subpoena to do something, and I will let the attorneys all handle that. The issue is [that] it’s all crap and they are trying to use the press trying to use a day that’s very special to the Southeastern Conference for players and the coaches.”
Attorneys have been seeking Fulmer’s sworn statements in a lawsuit filed by Smith, a former Alabama booster, against the NCAA.
Fulmer was ordered to appear to give a deposition on Sept. 25 in Birmingham. The date is two days before Tennessee plays at Auburn; Blankenship said they picked the date because they knew Fulmer would be in Alabama.
By participating in SEC media days by telephone from Tennessee four years ago, Fulmer avoided coming to Alabama and possibly being forced to testify in another case involving an NCAA investigation of the Crimson Tide.