On Sept. 30, a federal judge dismissed a lawsuit against the University of Georgia and the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia brought by former Bulldogs baseball player Adam Sasser.
The suit came in response to Sasser’s permanent release from the UGA baseball team and suspension from campus following an incident that took place at the Georgia-Tennessee football game in Sanford Stadium on Sept. 29, 2018. Spectators filmed and saw Sasser, who is white, in the UGA student section using a racial slur directed at then backup quarterback for Georgia, Justin Fields, who is Black.
The defendants in the lawsuit are listed as the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia, the University of Georgia, Jere Morehead, the UGA Equal Opportunity Office, Eryn Janyce Dawkins, the UGA Athletic Association, Edward McMillian Tate — the chancellor of Legal Affairs for UGA — and C. Dean Alford, both individually and as a member of Board of Regents of the USG.
The ruling states that Counts I, II, III, IV, V and VII, of Sasser’s second amended complaint, as well Sasser's breach of contract claims against the individual defendants, are dismissed with prejudice, meaning Sasser can not re-file these claims again in court. The ruling for count VI does allow Sasser to re-file this claim but only at the state level and not in federal court, where the original lawsuit was filed.
Count III was brought against the individual defendants in a personal capacity. Ultimately, it stated that Sasser’s removal from the UGA baseball team and other sanctions that were imposed on him had no rational basis because at the time of the incident he didn’t pose a threat to himself or others.
Count I, which was brought against all defendants, concerned Sasser’s right to freedom of speech under the First Amendment — which guarantees freedom of expression — and the 14th Amendment — which guarantees all citizens equal protection of the laws as well as due process of law.
Count II regarded Sasser’s procedural and substantive due process granted by the 14th Amendment and was brought against all defendants.
Count IV was also brought against all defendants in a personal capacity and regarded procedural and substantive due process. Additionally, it alleged denial of interest in his education by defendants, as well as denial of right to be heard by defendants.
Count V regarded deprivation of equal protection granted in the 14th Amendment and re-alleged and incorporated all previous allegations while challenging the UGA Non-Discrimination and Anti-Harassment Policy.
Count VI, the only count Sasser can further pursue at the state level, regards breach of contract and alleges that “the UGA student handbook and student athletic handbook establish a binding agreement between the Defendants and each UGA student,” and alleges that the defendants failed to follow these binding procedures.
Count VII was brought against all defendants and regarded Declaratory Relief and Injunction, realleging all previous counts. Additionally, it alleged that all defendants have committed multiple violations of federal and state law and caused irreversible damage to the plaintiff’s future career and employment prospects.
On Sept. 29, 2020, Sasser, who was originally listed in the lawsuit under the name John Doe until he was ordered to file an amended complaint identifying himself by name, filed the federal suit in Georgia’s Northeast District Court.
He alleged suffering due to “extensive damages as the Defendants’ and UGA Athletic Association caused severe damages, including but not limited to employment damage and thus monetary damages,” states the lawsuit.
Additionally, the lawsuit alleged that the defendants and its agents are responsible for depriving Sasser of his constitutional rights under the First Amendment and the Fourteenth Amendment.
The lawsuit states that on Oct. 4, 2018, Dawkins “issued findings and sanctions, including suspending Sasser for the remainder of the Fall 2018 semester.”
According to the lawsuit, on Oct. 9, 2018, Dawkins revised the sanctions, permitting Sasser to attend classes remotely, but prohibiting him from participating in UGA athletics, attending any UGA home games until January 2020 and from entering UGA campus, unless given permission by the EOO.
Additionally, the suit states that Sasser was unable to attend all of his classes remotely because he needed his professors’ permission to do so and it was not possible for all of the classes he was enrolled in.