Overbearing Sports Dad or Racketeering Lacrosse Coaches?

Thursday, 19 June 2014 By Molly M. Ryan
Earlier this year, the father of a high school lacrosse player in Texas filed a Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) suit1, 2 in federal court over what he describes as a “pay-for-play” scheme at some of the state’s premier high school lacrosse programs.
The father who filed the suit is a lawyer and one of the plaintiffs, along with his wife and son, and his firm is the plaintiffs' counsel. The factual background to the suit, according to the allegations in the complaint, is as follows:
  • 2008 – One of the defendants began investigating how a year-round select lacrosse program could be profitable. That defendant created a corporate entity to own and operate the program. He enticed two others (also defendants) to become the shareholders but, behind the scenes, he was managing the program and compensating himself. The plaintiff son declined to join the new program. As such, defendants retaliated against him by inviting his high school teammates, but not him, to a college-recruiting program.
  • 2009 – The defendants targeted influential families who could affect support for the program. The defendants selected players based on their parents' influence and on potential revenue, not on players' lacrosse abilities. One of the defendants, who coached plaintiff son's high school team, spoke publicly about how the plaintiff son would never play varsity lacrosse because he was playing for a club program that the defendants viewed as competition.
  • 2010 – A defendant admitted that the defendants were trying to publicly embarrass the plaintiff son in order to coerce him into joining the for-profit program. The defendant coach allowed the plaintiff son to play in some varsity games his junior year but did not award him a varsity letter at the end of the year. He then transferred to another high school.
  • 2012/2013 – The plaintiff son was on the roster of Division III Southwestern University's lacrosse team; he was a freshman and played in seven games, scoring one goal. He is not, however, on the 2014 roster.

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Molly M. Ryan

Molly M. Ryan

Molly Ryan is an attorney in Goldberg Segalla’s Syracuse office who practices in the areas of sports and entertainment law, commercial litigation, and government liability. Molly graduated from the Santa Clara University School of Law and Colgate University, where she played on the women’s soccer team.
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