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 SCOTTSBORO, Ala. (AP) -A jury began its first full day of deliberations Thursday in a $35.5 million lawsuit filed by a longtime Alabama football booster who claims the NCAA defamed him when it imposed penalties on the Crimson Tide in 2002.
Ray Keller, a timber dealer and fan whom the university severed ties with because of the probe, contends the NCAA slandered and libeled him during the announcement by referring to him and others as ``rogue boosters,'' ``parasites'' and ``pariahs.''
The jury of nine women and three men worked less than an hour without reaching a verdict after closing arguments Wednesday.
Jurors, who heard three weeks of testimony, asked for a tape recorder so they could re-listen to a tape of former NCAA infractions committee chairman Tom Yeager announcing penalties against Alabama nearly six years ago.
Keller maintains the sanctioning organization wrongly lumped him in with other boosters who were accused of making improper contacts and payments to recruits in the 1990s.
Denying he did anything wrong, Keller sought $556,775 for four business deals he claims he lost; $5 million for mental anguish; $10 million for damage to his good name and $20 million to punish the NCAA.
The NCAA asked jurors to reject Keller's claims, portraying him as an Alabama fan who lost all perspective on the game, gave ``$100 handshakes'' to a recruit and had improper contacts with other Tide recruits.
The committee that imposed penalties on Alabama, chaired by Yeager, didn't have any malice toward Keller and simply acted on evidence, the NCAA said.
The NCAA didn't use the name of Keller or other boosters in announcing penalties against Alabama, but their names appeared in news accounts and the university sent Keller a letter disassociating him from its athletics program.
A separate lawsuit filed in Tuscaloosa by two former Alabama assistant coaches over the investigation resulted in a $30 million verdict against the NCAA, but that judgment was overturned on appeal.
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