NBA Hall of Famer Scottie Pippen Sues The Minaret at University of Tampa

Yesterday morning, The Minaret, the student newspaper I advise at the University of Tampa, received a rare burst of national attention.  The paper is one of the news outlets and websites named in a new lawsuit brought by NBA hall of famer Scottie Pippen.  The former basketball star, through his legal representatives, is suing us and others for defamation for referencing his alleged bankruptcy in published stories and online features.

The Minaret is one of two outlets affiliated with universities targeted in the suit.  The other is a law blog kept at Arizona State University.

My initial reactions: Yes, the whole shebang is a tiny bit surreal.  Yes, I believe the paper is fine legally and journalistically.  Yes, I believe this is less about the lawsuit and more about crisis communication to help Pippen restore his reputation.  No, I will not be burning any old Dream Team posters I stumble across in my parents’ basement this holiday season.  And no, I am not going to write or speak more about this (at least right now), at the behest of the university (who is officially the one named in the suit– our paper is not independent) and at the advice of the Student Press Law Center.

Deadspin: “Scottie Pippen is outraged that so many websites would report that he’s bankrupt and needs money.  To prove it’s not true, he’s suing for millions of dollars. As first reported by TMZ, Pippen filed suit in Illinois District Court yesterday, charging everyone from CNBC to the University of Tampa’s student newspaper with defamation for reporting– falsely, he claims– that Pippen has blown through all of his NBA cash. . . . It’s sort of fascinating to see which outlets were named as defendants, because the bankruptcy claim has been all over the Internet but only a select few come in for censure.”

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