Court Tosses Out H.S. Football Players' Free Speech Lawsuit

August 3, 2007

KNOXVILLE (AP) -- A federal appeals court today dismissed a lawsuit brought by four former Tennessee high school football players who said they were kicked off the team after they tried to get the coach fired.

The 6th U-S Circuit Court of Appeals overturned a decision by a Knoxville judge that would have allowed the players to take their claims of free speech violations to a jury.

The appeals court concluded that when it comes to sports, the coach is king.

The case stemmed from an October 2005 incident involving players at Jefferson County High School, about 30 miles east of Knoxville.

Teammates Jacob Giles, Joseph Dooley and Derrick Lowery alleged that coach Marty Euverard was abusive and circulated a petition calling for his ouster.

Players who apologized for signing the petition were allowed to stay on the team. Those who didn't were kicked off.

In its ruling, the 6th circuit said the players were not deprived an education nor were they punished for protected speech involving religious or political views.

Euverard is no longer coaching the Jefferson County football team. His last season was in 2006.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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