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Ex-MVP guard Simon sues UA, K.C. newspaper

By Susan Carroll
Arizona Daily Wildcat
October 15, 1998
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Arizona Daily Wildcat

Miles Simon

Former UA basketball player Miles Simon filed a lawsuit yesterday against the UA and the Kansas City Star newspaper, claiming defamation and invasion of privacy.

The lawsuit names top University of Arizona officials - including President Peter Likins and Vice President for Undergraduate Education Michael Gottfredson - and the Arizona Board of Regents as defendants.

Likins said from his home late last night that he has known about the lawsuit for "quite some time," but did not specify how long.

"It just makes me sad," Likins said. "That's just the nature of the world today."

Gottfredson refused comment last night.

The issue dates back to an October 1997 investigative article in the Kansas City Star that revealed Simon's grades and contended he was slipping though academic loopholes at the UA.

The $1 million lawsuit, filed in federal court yesterday, states that Simon was "held up to public ridicule and his privacy was invaded, and he was humiliated."

The Kansas City article stated that Simon, who was on academic probation for most of his playing career, boosted his grade point average by receiving an A for a class in which everyone got an A.

It also stated that Simon was allowed to rejoin the Wildcats for their championship run after sitting out 11 games because of a 1.6 GPA. According to the article, Simon received credit as a junior for a class the UA course catalog restricted to freshmen.

Simon, who was drafted by the Orlando Magic last summer, received national acclaim for his performance during the Wildcat's championship run in 1997.

The shooting guard led Arizona in scoring during the tournament, averaging 22 points through the six games, including a 30 point outburst in the championship game victory over Kentucky that earned him the Final Four MVP award.

The Kansas City newspaper cited a list of documents to show the UA made exceptions to its policies - possibly violating National Collegiate Athletic Association rules.

UA attorneys said they found nothing to indicate a violation of NCAA student-athlete eligibility regulations in the Simon case.

The lawsuit also states that an unnamed UA employee released Simon's grades to the Kansas City Star, violating the Federal Education and Privacy Act of 1974, which protects students' academic information.

UA Attorney Mike Proctor investigated the leak after the article was published.

Proctor was unavailable for comment last night.

Officials in the federal Family Policy Compliance Office, FERPA's investigative branch, told the Arizona Daily Wildcat last summer that the office never received a complaint from Simon and therefore did not look into the records release.

"We are not currently investigating the University of Arizona in conjunction with any violation of FERPA," Department of Education spokesman Jim Brashaw said in June.

The lawsuit also named Kansas City Star Editor Mark Zieman, the newspaper's publisher, the reporter who wrote the article and Knight Ridder Corp., the paper's parent company.

Wildcat Sports Editor Seth Doria and the Associated Press contributed to this report. Susan Carroll can be reached via e-mail at Susan.Carroll@wildcat.arizona.edu.