On this date 50 years ago, an Atlanta jury awarded Georgia Athletic Director Wally Butts $3.06 million in damages for a story published in the Saturday Evening Post that alleged he and Alabama head coach and AD, Paul W. Bryant had conspired to fix the 1962 game between the two teams. Butts, who had lost his job as a result of the scandal, eventually collected $460,000.
Soon after the judgement Bryant settled with the Post for $300,000. In his autobiography, Bryant said the strain of the experience had "taken 10 years off my life."
In 1986, James Kirby, who had attended the trial as an observer for the SEC, penned a book on the case, Fumble. Dawg Sports' own T. Kyle King produced an exhaustive and withering analysis of both the case and Kirby's book for Roll Bama Roll in 2010. If you want to learn more about this tumultuous episode in the history of Georgia and Alabama football, you would be hard-pressed to find a better place to go.
That said, if you want to know more I have dug up links to some of the better source material (including the Associated Press story of the verdict you can get by clicking the newspaper headline above):
- The orginal article, "The Story of A College Football Fix," which appeared in the March 23, 1963 issue of The Saturday Evening Post.
- The notes taken by Atlanta insurance agent George Burnett of the phone call between Butts and Bryant that eventually led to the expose.
- An exerpt from Bryant's statewide televised press conference prior to the release of the story refuting the allegations against he and Butts.
- The overview of the trial by Sports Illustrated's Dan Jenkins, "A Trial That Has the South Seething," published as the proceedings began in August 1963.
- The Saturday Evening Post's summation of the case and its eventual outcomes, "Why Did the Post Lose It's $10 Millon Case?," posted on the 50th anniversary of the article's publication.
- Curtis Publishing Co. v. Butts, 388 U.S. 130 (1967): The ruling by the US Supreme Court that ended the legal battle and established the standard of First Amendment protection against defamation claims brought by private individuals.
- The Atlanta Journal Constitution's disingenious defense of former columist Furman Bisher's contribution to the infamous expose. (Bisher did not pen the piece but he did provide quotes reportedly from Georgia's coach Johnny Griffth which were proved during the trial to have been fabricated.)