Cottrell filed defamation suit vs. former analyst

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- A jury awarded $30 million to former Alabama assistant coach Ronnie Cottrell on Friday in his defamation lawsuit against former recruiting analyst Tom Culpepper.

Jurors awarded Cottrell $6 million in compensatory damages and $24 million in punitive damages.

Cottrell's suit claimed Culpepper defamed him by saying he stole money from the Shaun Alexander Foundation, that he stole videotapes from the University of Alabama after his dismissal and that he abandoned his first wife and family in Tallahassee.

Cottrell and former Tide coach Ivy Williams filed suit nearly two years ago against Culpepper and the NCAA, claiming they were unable to find comparable employment following the NCAA's investigation and sanctions against Alabama.

Cottrell is currently the head coach at Carroll High School in Ozark.

Earlier this week, Tuscaloosa Circuit Judge Steven Wilson threw out all claims against the NCAA, leaving only Cottrell's suit against Culpepper, who was a secret witness against Alabama in the investigation.

Wilson also reversed a previous ruling Thursday in a move that made it easier for Cottrell to prove his claims against Culpepper. Wilson ruled that Cottrell should be considered a private figure by the jury, rather than a limited-access public figure as he had previously ruled.

The defense rested its case Thursday and both sides presented closing arguments earlier Friday.