Lawsuit asks court to order PC to refund $10,000
Presbyterian College is being sued for fraud by a Charleston alumnus and former football player.
The lawsuit by Eric M. Poulin, filed Nov. 22 in Laurens County civil court, alleges that PC trustees and fund-raisers knew in 2016 that a possible reclassification for Blue Hose football away from the Big South Conference was being studied. Still, the lawsuit alleges, former president Claude Lilly, current President Bob Staton, former football head coach Harold Nichols and others used Big South DI football as a shining example of why people should donate money to Presbyterian College.
On Nov. 8 & 9, the PC trustees met and agreed to a strategic plan that moves PC football out of the Big South and into the Pioneer League. Football is the only sport affected, and the only sport for which athletes will not be eligible for athletic scholarships, beginning now.
As of right now, PC Athletics is not offering football scholarships, as football will join the Pioneer League in 2021. All current players will have their scholarships honored, but no future players will be on scholarships, Critics of the plan say next season, PC will have some scholarship football players - those who don't transfer - and a bunch of "walk-ons" - the quality of play on the field will suffer, they say.
Poulin's lawsuit demands a jury trial, but is subject to arbitration. It alleges 4 Causes of Action, and asks for a refund of a $10,000 donation and any damages, actual and punitive, that a jury chooses to award. The 4th Cause of Action alleges Poulin's December, 2016 donation was used for purposes other than what it was intended, ie support of the football program. The lawsuit alleges that as far back as 2013 PC officials began exploring the possibility of moving athletics from NCAA Division I, to Division II or III. This action was done "actively, but secretly," the lawsuit alleges.
Trustees told the athletics department not to schedule football games past 2019, to give them time to make a decision, the lawsuit alleges. Poulin attended PC, 2004-08, graduated with a degree in political science, and has donated to the football program and other PC funds since 2012, the lawsuit's background says.
PC has 30 days from the date of service (Nov. 22, 2017) to answer the lawsuit's allegations.