I say this every time I mention his name, but to be clear, I'm pro-Houston Nutt. What I don't like are some of his followers. I see similarities with Houston and our lame-duck president. They both enjoyed wide popularity for a time but that has steadily waned. Bush won both his elections and should be on top of his political game. Houston just came off of one of the most successful seasons of his career. Both seem to have a need to keep secrets - secrets that they are not necessarily entitled to keep. Bush didn't want to release emails of discussions of firing US prosecutors - but failed. Nutt has transferred his phone records to the U of A Foundation to keep the citizens of this state from seeing how one of their employees is spending their money ( on phone calls at least) I hear you can even get a free personal phone with a 2 year contract - but what do I know? Bush surrounds himself with people willing to do anything to help him get his way. Loyal Bushies, like our short-term US Attorney, Timmy the Unconfirmed. Nutt has a gaggle of laywers, PR types, an athletic director, and loyal friends who seem way too eager to protect him even if he doesn't really need protecting. I say this because I don't think he has done anything wrong, certainly nothing to cause him to lose his job. Similarly, Bush had every right to fire some US attorneys. Its always the cover-up that gets you. In both cases - I don't think there was much that needed to be covered up. Nutt can call anyone he wants, anytime for all I care - even on a state phone. But, once our Attorney General opens his weasel-like mouth he can't seem to tell the truth. He claimed not to be heavily involved in the attorney firings. Why did he say it? Because they wanted to keep their little plan secret and avoid admitting the firings were political. Then they got stupid and threw in the excuse they were fired for job performance. Nutt has his lawyer threaten a fan for merely requesting FOI and sharing it with the board of trustees. Reminds me of a call Bud Cummins got strongly discouraging from voluntarily testifying before congress. In both cases -- the cover up draws far more negative publicity than the underlying issue ever would have. I think Bush needs a newAttorney General and a new chief political advisor. Likewise, maybe Nutt just needs a new PR person and a new lawyer -- ones who can understand that the cover up IS the story and whether true or not - people know where there is smoke there is fire.
In the extended entry I have cut and paste more than you will want to read about this entire affair. But I shouldn't use that word because I might get sued.......
hoglawyer@gmail dot com
Football fan’s FOI findings fuel frenzy Thursday, April 12, 2007 8:43 PM CDT Local University of Arkansas follower at center of Houston Nutt controversy
By Warren Watkins The Daily Citizen Thomas McAfee of Searcy describes himself as a concerned Razorback fan. That concern and subsequent Freedom of Information request has drawn the attention of coach Houston Nutt’s attorney. It all began when McAfee requested copies of Nutt’s cell phone records after reading a newspaper story. “I contacted [UA Chancellor] John White, requesting Danny and Houston Nutt’s phone records,” McAfee said. “They sent the records fairly quickly. I had questions about an article in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette about the e-mails concerning Teresa Prewett and Mitch Mustain.” Danny Nutt is Houston Nutt’s brother and an assistant football coach at the UA. The newspaper article McAfee referred to concerned an email about Mustain which may have figured into the departure of the star quarterback from the UA. “I was curious if Danny or Houston knew about the e-mail before or after it was sent,” McAfee said. “I just wanted to see if there was any way to prove or disprove if there was a link.” After receiving the records, McAfee sent e-mails to the UA Board of Trustees. “Some of the stuff I found in looking a the records brought up some concerns I thought the UA would like to know about,” McAfee said. “Four days later, I got a letter from Houston Nutt’s lawyer. I showed some friends the letter and asked them if he had any basis in threatening me. The letter from Nutt’s lawyer explained why Houston Nutt had so much contact with Donna Bragg.” Nutt’s lawyer is Byron Freeland of Little Rock. Bragg is a news anchor for Fort Smith television station KHBS, channels 40/29. The phone records show Nutt sent and received more than one thousand e-mails and text messages to and from Bragg, McAfee said. A 48-page analysis of the records, which brought the matter a step further into the public’s consciousness, was written by some of McAfee’s acquaintances, he said. “No, I didn’t write that,” McAfee said of the analysis. “I know there was a group of individuals. At that point I dropped everything and showed them the records,” he said of the friends who wrote the analysis. Nutt’s lawyer accused McAfee of interfering with Nutt’s contract with the UA. “In the letter to the UA trustees, I told them facts and that I had heard rumors,” McAfee said. “I didn’t see how that was interfering with someone’s contract. To me it was a legitimate concern.” The results of McAfee’s actions have changed his life. His name is now found on many Internet fan sites dealing with Razorback football, connected with the allegations. “I don’t see what I did was wrong, but I wish it hadn’t turned out the way it had,” McAfee said Thursday. “...People have sent mail cursing me and threatening me with bodily harm.” To McAfee, his search for answers was an exercise of his freedom of speech. “I feel like a person should be able to ask questions and not be threatened for asking questions,” McAfee said. McAfee has retained attorney Nate Coulter of Little Rock to represent him in any action from the UA. “It hasn’t cost me anything yet,” McAfee said of attorney’s fees. “He said he’d work with me if it goes to court, which I hope it doesn’t.” Coulter said Thursday that Freeland has requested a meeting with McAfee and has corresponded with at least two letters. “I told Freeland that there was no basis for any litigation,” Coulter said. “Thomas has done nothing false or inflammatory. He’s an honorable and courageous man who’s been honest about his intentions as a fan. Suddenly he’s the victim here. Coach Nutt obviously doesn’t like the conclusion of this, and he has the right to his opinion.” Coulter said he wasn’t sure if the meeting with Freeland will happen. A graduate of Beebe High School and a former student at Arkansas State University—Beebe, McAfee did not attend UA, but described himself as “a lifelong fan of the Hogs.” “I can remember watching Razorback football and basketball since I was little bitty, and I’ve always followed the Hogs,” McAfee said. His own analysis of Nutt’s phone records is inconclusive, McAfee said. “It’s all circumstantial,” McAfee said. “I guess I really don’t have a conclusion. I haven’t talked to Houston.” Requests for information on the controversy from the UA were referred to Freeland. Phone calls to Bragg in relation to this article were also not returned.
RAZORBACK INTERNET TALE : Truth-seeking or fan interference? BY MARK MINTON Posted on Tuesday, April 17, 2007
Nineteen minutes before kickoff at the Capital One Bowl, Houston Nutt dug out his cell phone and punched in a text message to Donna Bragg, a television news anchor in Fort Smith. The message — one of 1,063 text messages that Nutt and Bragg exchanged between Nov. 30 and Jan. 11 — surfaced in a batch of records obtained by fans who used the Arkansas Freedom of Information Act to analyze Nutt’s use of his university-issued cell phone. The two also exchanged 25 phone calls during that time. One fan took his concerns to the University of Arkansas board of trustees. Horrified by the Internet chatter that erupted over the records, Bragg, who works for KHBS/KHOG 40/29 in Fort Smith and Fayetteville, said last week that nothing wrong has happened. "We have not had an inappropriate relationship," Bragg told the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette last week. "We are friends. I am also friends with Diana Nutt. Clearly, my communication with Houston is being used as a weapon by people who want him to be fired. The lies regarding our contact are vast, slanderous and painful. "Houston Nutt and I are friends. Period." Nutt, the head football coach, has not commented, on the advice of his attorney. His wife, Diana, posted an open letter last week saying they are the victims of lies spread by "haters." The coach’s personal lawyer has warned the fan who took his findings to the trustees. Welcome to the intersection of Razorback athletics and the Internet. Plugged into message boards and armed with Freedom of Information Act requests, a new breed of Razorback fan has gone from mere spectator to actively investigating coaches and posting the results online. Zinging e-mails, document dumps, blog updates — it’s all part of a full-bloom melodrama. The fan FOI’ers are arising at a time when the Razorback fan base is deeply split over Nutt. The polarization pits Nutt "huggers" against the "dark-siders," as a moderator of the popular Hogville.net message board put it last week. On the Web, where pointing fingers and airing revelations are easy and anonymous, it can be impossible to tell what’s real, what’s credible, or even where it’s coming from. What about the Diana Nutt letter that recently appeared on blogs, lashing out at the "armies" she says are out to ruin her husband? That one’s authentic. "But that’s all I’ll say about it," the coach's wife said Friday. Real or not, credible or not, the Internet takes it worldwide in a flash. Discussions of Nutt, Bragg and the phone logs can be found on sites such as CBS Sportsline and AOL Sports Blog and on blogs devoted to Baylor, Louisiana State University and Alabama athletics, among others.
Some people are taking it all very seriously. Thomas McAfee, the 28-year-old Searcy man who obtained the phone records and took his findings to the board of trustees, says he has received a death threat at his home, according to his attorney. He worries about his job. In Fort Smith, Bragg's exhusband requested extra police patrols in her neighborhood after people followed her home and a man drove by her house repeatedly with a video camera. Callers keep ringing her cell phone and hanging up, Russell Bragg said. Sgt. Jarrard Copeland of the Fort Smith Police Department confirmed the patrols.
Bragg, an evening anchor who holds down a day job as director of Fort Smith's Bost Foundation, which raises money to help people with disabilities, said she can't discuss details of the situation because her contract with the station limits her public statements. Russell Bragg said the 41-year-old broadcaster's friendship with Nutt grew out of their common experiences as public personalities handling adversities such as the deaths of relatives while in the public glare. Bragg and Nutt have even discussed writing a book together about their experiences as public figures. Divorced since 1998, the Braggs remain on good terms. "We've been talking to each other all the way through this," Russell Bragg said. "She's expressed her concern that she hasn't done anything wrong. She's entitled to have these friends." Russell Bragg said it's easy to generate a huge volume of text-messages — the messages, by nature, are short, and each one shows up on phone logs. Curious himself, he asked his ex-wife about the Capital One Bowl message. She explained that, weeks before, she had shared with Nutt a motivational story that had helped her after her divorce. It was about how warriors channel their fears to make themselves stronger. The word-for-word text of the message Nutt sent Bragg before the kickoff remains private. But it was along the lines of: "Watch our warriors play with all their heart and spirit and win," Russell Bragg said. Donna Bragg, at home at the time, thought perhaps it meant that Nutt had drawn on her motivational story to fire up the team. It wasn't Nutt's last phone message before the bowl game. Nutt's phone records, which the Democrat-Gazette obtained from the university through a Freedom of Information Act request, show that one minute after his 11:41 a.m. message to Bragg, he sent a text message to his wife's cell phone.
McAfee said his pursuit of the phone records started after he read a Feb. 15 news story in the Democrat-Gazette that detailed a pair of lurid e-mails that may have hastened the departure of prize quarterback Mitch Mustain. Teresa Prewett, a Little Rock booster and friend of the Nutt family, sent a pair of e-mails on Dec. 6 and 7 that were harshly critical of the heralded freshman. Prewett sent the Dec. 6 e-mail, which contained disparaging passages not only about Mustain but also about former offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn, to Diana Nutt's e-mail account, among others. The coach's wife forwarded it to a Springdale business, remarking that some of the bits were "quite funny." Prewett followed up the next day with the now legendary e-mail that began, "Hello, Mr. Interception King," and ripped into Mustain. Prewett, who has since apologized, was reprimanded by Houston Nutt and banned from the sidelines at games. When the Democrat-Gazette story came out detailing the imbroglio, McAfee, an avid fan who said he doesn't have the money for season tickets but follows the Razorbacks closely, pored over every detail. He thought he spotted an important gap in the story: Running backs coach Danny Nutt, Houston's brother, was among those who had received "Mr. Interception King." Yet, while Houston Nutt was quoted denying knowledge of the e-mail until weeks later, so far as McAfee could tell, no one had asked Danny Nutt about it. "In the story, to me, there were a lot of questions unanswered," McAfee said. He was also dissatisfied with subsequent interviews that Nutt gave to Stephens Media and radio shows such as Drive Time Sports. McAfee thought the questions soft and the explanations incomplete. He said he wondered whether the coaches knew more about the e-mails than they had admitted and had failed to act in defense of Mustain and Malzahn, both of whom arrived at the UA from Springdale High School with enormous expectations — only to leave the Razorbacks a year later. McAfee said he wasn't the only one dissatisfied by the public explanations. "People would call in to Drive Time and ask questions. Like, Danny got the e-mail. People would ask, did he get it? Did he read it?"
To McAfee, phone records showing whether the Nutts had talked to Prewett immediately before and after the e-mails went out would shed light on what the Nutts knew and when they knew it. He decided to get the records. "I wanted to know what the truth was," he said in an interview last week. McAfee, whose job at Little Rock's Alltel Corp. involves computer security, had never written a Freedom of Information Act request before. He said he knew the law could be used to obtain public records but had been under the impression that it was only for the news media. "Someone mentioned it to me, that it was for anyone," he said. Unsure how to go about it, he called the Democrat-Gazette and inquired about the process. He talked to a woman at the newspaper — he didn't remember her name — who told him about the "Arkansas Freedom of Information Handbook," printed by the Arkansas Press Association, with legal research by the attorney general's office. Then McAfee wrote and sent a Freedom of Information Act request to the university. It sought copies of "any correspondence that Arkansas head football coach Houston Nutt and running-backs coach Danny Nutt have had with booster Teresa Prewett" between Nov. 1 and Feb. 28, the date of his letter. "This correspondence between the Nutts and Prewett would include e-mails, letters, records of phone calls, text messages, and what dates they were made," McAfee wrote in his letter. He got more than he asked for. Instead of tediously culling the coaches' phone records for calls and text messages to Prewett, the university mailed McAfee all the coaches' phone records for the requested dates.
McAfee said his request never turned up a single e-mail. But the phone records were a trove of data: 564 pages logging thousands of phone calls and text messages. When he began plowing through it, McAfee said, he was looking for communications between the Nutts and Prewett just before or after the Dec. 6 and 7 e-mails. He did discover that Houston and Danny Nutt exchanged several calls and text messages with Prewett on those dates. While he was at it, McAfee said, he noticed that another telephone number turned up over and over in Houston Nutt's records. McAfee didn't know whose number it was. He called the number. Voice mail said it was Donna Bragg's phone, McAfee said.
LETTER TO UA TRUSTEES
"I was concerned about what I found," McAfee said in last week's interview at the office of his attorney, Nate Coulter. Recalling just what had troubled him about the records, McAfee focused in the interview on the flurry of calls that Danny Nutt made to Prewett on Dec. 6 and 7. "I know they're friends," he said. "They talked. Why would he ignore an e-mail from her?" Prewett was Danny Nutt's therapist after his brain surgery. McAfee also flagged several cell-phone calls that Houston Nutt placed to Prewett on Dec. 6 and 7. But the Prewett contacts were not the only ones that McAfee cited in the "To Whom it May Concern" letter he e-mailed to UA trustees, Chancellor John White and UA System President Alan Sugg on March 15. "A couple weeks ago, I sent in an FOIA request to the University of Arkansas requesting both HDN and Danny Nutt's," McAfee began, failing to finish the first sentence. "The request was fulfilled," he wrote. "I found some disturbing things regarding these phone records." McAfee, who identified Houston Nutt only by his initials, informed the trustees that he had looked up a number that "HDN" called and text-messaged frequently. "The number in question is for a lady named Donna Bragg," he wrote, directing the trustees to one series of December calls in particular. "I know that in itself does not prove that anything wrong happened. "I know this [sic] HDN's personal life is personal, and none of our concern. But when it starts to detract from the U of A, then it becomes a larger problem." Four days later, McAfee sent a follow-up e-mail to the trustees, White and Sugg. He said he had forgotten to mention another "disturbing fact" from HDN's phone records. He listed the contacts he had discovered among Prewett, Danny and Houston Nutt on Dec. 7, the day of the "Mr. Interception King" e-mail. "Yeah — Houston didn't know anything about it," McAfee concluded with evident sarcasm.
Any Arkansas citizen can use the Freedom of Information Act to get public documents. And McAfee's request is one of several that have landed at the UA lately from people who don't work in the news media — but who are seeking athletic department records. The request letters themselves are public documents subject to disclosure. So the Democrat-Gazette made a request to the university last week requesting disclosure of all the FOI requests filed since Nov. 1. Several of them didn't come from media companies. Angling for Houston Nutt's phone or credit-card records, those requests were made by a handful of individuals following the Razorback football action off the field. Mitch Mustain, for one. In his March 14 FOI request, Mustain asked for all cell-phone and office-phone records for Houston Nutt and his secretary-assistant and the same set of records for Danny Nutt, Athletic Director Frank Broyles and Broyles' secretary-assistant. Mustain's letter includes this sentence: "I hereby authorize the University of Arkansas to release the requested information to Beckwith M. Campbell." Campbell is Mustain's mother. "Our request for information was confined to specific records and documents related to our personal experiences with the football program," Campbell said in an e-mail Monday. "We have not been, and will not be a party to or participate in the dissemination or disclosure of any unrelated information." Dustin Sahlmann of Little Rock requested all records of contact between Houston Nutt and Broyles from Nov. 16 to Jan. 30 and any contact between Nutt and White during that time. On March 5, he sent another FOI letter, this one seeking "all incoming and outgoing university in-house calls as well as university cell phone calls for Houston Nutt from Dec. 7 to Dec. 11." Others focusing on the same general period — last fall through the present — have requested copies of e-mails between Danny Nutt and Houston Nutt; e-mails and deleted e-mails between Houston Nutt and Donna Bragg; Malzahn's cell-phone records; e-mails between Malzahn and Chancellor White; between Malzahn and Houston Nutt; between Malzahn and trustees Jim Lindsey, John Tyson, Gary George or Broyles; recruiting expense reports; Malzahn's credit-card records; and hotel and motel invoices related to the athletic department. Sahlmann, 33, a manager at Bennett's Military Supplies in Little Rock who is active on the Razorbacktalk.com message board, explained last week what he was looking for. "What I really wanted to get my hands on was, hopefully, e-mails to show that Houston and Danny had their hands in the Teresa Prewett e-mail," he said. The data discovered in the phone logs soon made its way to the Internet.
The 48-page report, easily available on the Web, is at the center of the debate, but its author or authors remain a mystery. The report does not come with a byline. Though it can be found on sites such as "Journalism is for Rockstars," its availability doesn't explain its origin. McAfee said he didn't write it and doesn't know who did. He said he did hand the Nutts' phone records off to "friends" whom he declined to name. "They're the ones who looked into this further," he said. He said he believed the writing was a collaborative effort. Sahlmann acknowledged that he contributed information for parts of the report, but wouldn't say just who he gave his bits to. "There was a select few who had the final say about what went in," Sahlmann said. "They wanted some information from me, so I sent it to them."
MYSTERY REPORT The mystery report weaves information from the phone records with information from previously released media accounts, including stories from the Democrat-Gazette. It reports findings in three principal areas: the calls and messages between Houston Nutt and Bragg; the calls and messages to Prewett; and calls that Nutt made to officials and boosters at North Carolina State and Miami after coaching jobs opened there. The report singles out textmessages that Bragg and Nutt exchanged on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and other occasions, and notes the volume of calls. When jobs opened after Miami fired Larry Coker and N.C. State fired Chuck Amato, Nutt placed calls to Raleigh, N.C., and Miami, the report said. On Dec. 3, he called a number in Garner, N.C., a suburb of Raleigh, and two days later, made three calls to Raleigh, the report says. It doesn't identify whose numbers they are. On Dec. 7, Nutt had a 30-minute call with prominent Miami booster Nevin Shapiro. When he hung up, Nutt called his agent, Jimmy Sexton of Memphis, and then called Shapiro back. Nutt also called Miami senior athletic director Tony Hernandez four times that day. The report tabulates many of the exchanges, detailing who contacted whom and at just what times. But it says nothing at all about what was said in the calls or text messages. N.C. CALLS The numbers in Raleigh and Garner belong to Joe Pate, a former Razorbacks assistant coach who is now an assistant athletic director at N.C. State. Pate confirmed he talked to Nutt in December. He said it had nothing to do with the coaching job. "No, no, no. Nothing like that," Pate said. "There was nothing about any job investigation. In fact, about that period of time, I think they played Wisconsin in the bowl. I wished him good luck. "He has never called me once about a job or anything, and that's the truth." At Miami, Hernandez deferred comment to assistant athletic director Mark Pray. "Tony never talked to him," Pray said. "Nor did anyone else in the athletic department." Nevin Shapiro, who was never on Miami's official search committee but whose $250,000 gift to the school put his name on its athletic lounge, acknowledged talking to Nutt. "Somehow, some way that information ended up in front of me that he would be a viable candidate for the job," Shapiro said. "There was no real meat to it." For her part, Prewett said last week that none of the calls or texts referenced in the report were related to the harsh emails she sent. "Houston and Danny Nutt had nothing to do with me writing that e-mail — zero," she said. "I've been text-messaging and talking to the Nutts for nine years, 10 years. They didn't ask me to do anything. They didn't have a clue I was writing it."
DISSATISFIED WITH MEDIA
Sahlmann and McAfee both said they were driven to uncover their own truths in large part by dissatisfaction with traditional media that they find too timid. "The media coverage is a joke," said Sahlmann. "I think they have been browbeaten so hard by the administration in the athletic department that they are actually afraid to come out and tell the truth because they're afraid they're going to lose their ties to the program." Jason Kincy of Bentonville, Michael Geater of Stuttgart, and Ryan Jones of Springdale also submitted FOI requests. "I am a lifelong Razorback fan who supports Houston Nutt, the coaching staff and all of the Razorback players," Kincy said Saturday, distancing himself from "dark-siders." He asked for phone and credit-card records of Malzahn because he's no longer a university employee and so "could not be affected by the results." "I view the accounts of the FOI records released on the Internet relating to Coach Nutt as suspicious and unreliable and do not support them in any way," he added. Kincy said he hasn't yet received any records. Geater, another self-described Razorback football fan, made three FOI requests for phone records and e-mails of Houston Nutt and Danny Nutt. He said he didn't realize that his FOI requests could themselves be requested under the FOI, and declined further comment. Credit-card records of Houston and Danny Nutt were requested by Jones, who said he'd seen "a lot of rumors online." He hasn't received any records yet, he said, wasn't sure what he would do with any records, and added that he had "no ulterior motive."
Nutt's personal attorney, Byron Freeland of Little Rock, questioned the motives and the perspective of those who are digging into his client's private life. "Most people have something to do for a living rather than pore through 500 pages," Freeland said. "This is not life or death. It's football. "If people took as much interest in their government, we'd be a lot better off." McAfee's attorney, Coulter, said McAfee was motivated to go to the trustees because he believed what he saw in the phone records warranted investigation. He wanted the board of trustees to demand accountability in the athletic department. Despite rampant speculation surrounding the April 7 board of trustees meeting in Marianna, the board adjourned without publicly addressing Nutt or the football program. It's unclear exactly what the trustees or administration have done with McAfee's inquiry, beyond the March 16 note of acknowledgment sent by trustee Jane Rogers: "I appreciate you taking time to send this information. Thanks so much." Board Chairman Stanley Reed of Marianna didn't return a phone call. Chancellor White considers it an athletic department matter and has no comment, a spokesman said. Athletic department spokesman Kevin Trainor said only that the department gets all kinds of letters and gives each "appropriate consideration." McAfee's getting unsolicited letters these days, too — one or two pieces of what he describes as hate mail a day over the last week. One letter said: "If I ever find out what you look like I'm going to beat you up," he said. On Friday, somebody came to McAfee's house and left a note with a death threat, Coulter said. DIANA NUTT LETTER Diana Nutt last week dispatched her own letter into cyberspace, to rebut the gossip and accusations simmering on the Internet. Her letter, posted on several sites, beseeched "friends and loyal fans" not to believe the "crazy things" that she attributed to armies of ‘haters' North of us." "I know that anyone with any intelligence can see through all of this every time a new story rolls around," she wrote. "And NO, Houston has not had an affair with Donna Bragg! "I think it is pathetic that I am even having to address issues like this. The perspective of these people is so distorted and ridiculous." Meanwhile, rumblings of a lawsuit continue. Freeland has written McAfee claiming he intentionally defamed Nutt and tried to illegally interfere with Nutt's contract with the university. Through his attorney, Nutt has asked for a face-to-face meeting with McAfee. Coulter said he is trying to arrange the meeting. But he said McAfee has done nothing to defame Nutt. Coulter said McAfee obtained public documents through a law that gives every Arkansan that power, and then wrote a letter to a public board detailing conclusions that are fair to draw from the phone records. Nutt is a public figure, he said, and the little guy has a right to question those in power. "They don't like that he said the emperor has no clothes," Coulter said. "You're not supposed to say a word about the Razorback coach. You're supposed to genuflect." On Thursday, Freeland wrote Coulter saying again that McAfee has defamed Nutt and putting McAfee on notice not to destroy any e-mails or records of any conversations that mention Nutt. Freeland said he wants to get and review any Internet postings McAfee has made about Nutt. He said that McAfee made "erroneous assumptions" about Houston and Danny Nutt's knowledge of Prewett's e-mail, but is not challenging that, only statements regarding Nutt's personal life. Friday, Coulter responded to Freeland, asking him to put Nutt on notice not to delete any data from his cell phone, which may still contain the actual words of the messages. Coulter challenged Nutt to exonerate himself with the trustees by compiling those messages and handing them over. McAfee has written a third letter to the trustees. "I was curious as to why Houston Nutt is threatening legal action against me," he wrote. "Hopefully, this was just a misunderstanding. I don't harbor any ill feelings toward Houston, I honestly thought I was looking out for the best interests of the University of Arkansas." In the interview at his lawyer's office, he said, "I didn't think I did anything wrong, and I still don't." At one point, he became emotional. "I'd really like this to go away," McAfee said. He wasn't apologizing. He said he still believes his concerns to be legitimate, and said that the facts he uncovered from the phone records do raise real issues. He conceded one thing: "I don't know the truth, still."
Thanks, Arkansas Think the "Busted Nutt" situation is already out of control?
letters to the editor Filed under: Arkansas, Blogging, Houston Nutt, Official rumormongering, WOO PIG SOOIE Share on Facebook • Subscribe to this feed • Save to del.icio.us • Digg This! Wednesday, April 04, 2007
Nutt cornered with circumstantial evidence (but no smoking gun) Reinhold Matay/The Associated Press Originally uploaded by newspaperhack. After reading the impeccably compiled dossier on the latest scandals involving Arkansas head coach Houston Nutt, I've decided that there's plenty of circumstantial evidence of hanky-panky, but no smoking gun. There's also actionable defamatory accusations, apparently, so you lawyas out there let me know if you're good at that sort of thing. I may need it. OK -- Razorback fan Thomas McAfee put together this rather large document, implying that Nutt 1) was complicit in the "Hello Mr. Interception King" email, 2) Nutt went behind former offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn's back to hire David Lee, 3) he sought the Miami and N.C. State jobs this past year and 4) is having an illicit affair with KHBS anchor Donna Bragg. In a letter in response to the accusations, Nutt attorney Byron Freeland (of Mitchell, Williams, Selig, Gates and Woodyard, PLLC) wrote that McAfee is guilty of defamation and an "an illegal attempt to interfere with Coach Nutt's contract with the University." So, let's get into it. TERESA PREWITT AND THE EMAIL The Prewitt section outlines first who she is: Teresa Prewett is a contributor to the Razorbacks Foundation and has been a football season-ticket holder since 1985. Prewett owns Prewett Physical Therapy in Little Rock and served as Arkansas Razorbacks running backs coach Danny Nutt’s personal therapist when he was recovering from brain surgery in 1998. Since that time, she has become a close friend to both Danny Nutt and Houston Nutt, claiming, she is “completely loyal to the Nutt family” and “they are my extended family.” According to the file, Prewitt sent one email on Dec. 6 and another on Dec. 7. The first one riffed on players and coaches, and second email was "Hello Mr. Interception King." The first one went to Arkansas Democrat-Gazette sports editor Wally Hall and Nutt's wife, Diana. Three hours later, Nutt and Prewitt exchanged four text messages. The second one went to former quarterback Mitch Mustain, Nutt's brother Danny (UA running backs coach) and the wife of Dickey (Arkansas State basketball coach), the wife of defensive coordinator Reggie Herring, Diana Nutt's address and 10 other people. That day, phone records show that both Danny and Nutt called Prewitt before the second email went out. After the email, Nutt and Prewitt texted seven times, Danny and Prewitt texted once, and Danny and Prewitt talked twice. The call logs also show that Danny and Prewitt had an unusual amount of calls between each other on the days of the emails. No action was taken until Jan. 12, when Nutt send an official letter of repremand to Prewitt. Nutt also said he did not know of the email until that day. THE HIRING OF OFFENSIVE COORDINATOR DAVID LEE This is the synopsis on Lee: Former Dallas Cowboys’ offensive assistant and former Razorback assistant coach David Lee was named offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at the University of Arkansas on January 16, 2007, replacing Gus Malzahn who resigned on January 15, 2007 to accept the co-offensive coordinator position with the Tulsa Golden Hurricane football team. Lee has joined the Razorback staff for the third time in his career after serving under both Ken Hatfield and Nutt previously. Lee worked as the quarterbacks and fullbacks coach from 1984-88 under Hatfield before moving on to a head coaching job at the University of Texas at El Paso. Nutt hired Lee as the quarterbacks coach again in 2001. He spent two seasons with the Hogs in that position before accepting an offer to join the Cowboys. And, quite honestly, this one's more complicated than chess: Between November 12, 2006 and December 19, 2006, there were 23 calls exchanged between Houston Nutt and David Lee. Between January 1, 2007 and January 11, 2007, there were an additional 19 calls exchanged between the two. According to The Morning News reporter Alex Abrams, Houston Nutt told Gus Malzahn on January 13, 2007 of his plans to add David Lee to the coaching staff as co-offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. (See Abrams’s article at http://www.nwaonline.net/articles/2007/01/17/news/011807wzlee.txt for more information.) Malzahn left Arkansas for Tulsa on January 15, 2007. Houston Nutt stated in his telephone response to Wally Hall’s column on February 9, 2007 that he informed Malzahn right after the January 1, 2007 bowl game that he wanted to add David Lee to the coaching staff if Alex Wood ended up leaving the coach staff. Alex Wood remains an active member of the Razorback coaching staff. David Lee was hired as offensive coordinator on January 16, 2007. When asked in his January 16, 2007 press conference if Malzahn had stayed at Arkansas to work alongside David Lee as co-offensive coordinator as Houston Nutt claimed was his original intention, who would have called the plays the following season, Houston Nutt responded that he did not know: “It could have gone either way. Gus could have called the plays or that new guy. It just kind of depends on which person you got. You don’t know. Nothing was in stone. Nothing was set.” (See Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reporter Bob Holt’s article at http://www.wholehogsports.com/adg/179124/ for more information.) According to Rivals.com’s Trey Biddy: "In Nutt's end of the season press conference, he said he would like to keep the staff intact and to improve the contracts for both Malzahn and defensive coordinator Reggie Herring. Herring's deal was completed soon, but Malzahn's does not appear to have ever been put on the table." (See Rivals.com reporter Trey Biddy’s article at http://sports.yahoo.com/ncaaf/news?slug=rivals- 89003&prov=rivals&type=lgns for more information.) In his article dated January 20, 2007, The Morning News reporter Bob Caudle writes: "Razorbackers are asked to believe that Offensive Coordinator Gus Malzahn had a contract extension waiting for him one week and the next week he's being demoted . . . To borrow from Mark Twain, there are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and the UA Athletic Department.” (See Caudle’s article at http://www.nwaonline.com/articles/2007/01/21/columns/bob_caudle/012107c audle.txt for more information.) NUTT'S ALLEGED WANDERING EYE (JOBS) Nutt said in late November that he was not interested in taking over for Larry Coker in Miami. That would make sense -- a crumbling stadium, a bandwagoning, thug life fan base and player discipline issues doesn't set off the benefit of going from Fayettnam to Coral Gables. Behold, circumstantial evidence of his interest: On December 7, 2006, Houston Nutt called Nevin Shapiro at 10:17 am. This call lasted 30 minutes. According to the Miami Hurricane’s official athletic department website, Nevin Shapiro is a “booster” for the Hurricane athletic program. His financial support is of the level that he has a student-athlete lounge at the University of Miami named after him Nevin K. Shapiro, an ardent, devoted, intense supporter of the University of Miami Athletics, has passionately followed the Hurricanes since 1978. Despite the fact that he attended college outside of Miami, his heart has always bled green and orange. Nevin has also been a very generous financial supporter of Hurricanes Athletics, participating in the Living Scholar program since 2001, contributing to the Campaign for the Convocation Center at the Hurricane 100 Level, and making a major gift to the Hecht Athletic Center Enhancement Project. For the tremendous philanthropic support he provides, the University of Miami is proud to name the Student-Athlete Lounge after Nevin Shapiro. (See the official athletic site of the University of Miami at http://hurricanesports.cstv.com/ot/mifl-hecht-donors.html for more information.) Immediately following this phone call, Nutt placed a call to his agent, Jimmy Sexton, at 10:47 am. Houston Nutt again contacted Nevin Shapiro by phone at 11:13 am that same day. Nutt also contacted Tony Hernandez four separate times on December 7, 2006 - 11:13 am, 11:54 am, 11:57 am and 3:11 pm. According to the Miami Hurricane’s official athletic department website, Tony Hernandez is currently the University of Miami’s Senior Associate Athletic Director (as of February 2007). Prior to that time, Hernandez held a number of official positions for the Miami Hurricane athletic department: Hernandez joined the UM Athletic Department in 1998 and has served in various capacities since that time. He began his career in Academic Services as a Graduate Assistant. He was hired full-time in 1999 as a Compliance Coordinator subsequently being promoted to Director of Compliance in 2002, Assistant AD for Compliance in 2004 and Associate AD for Compliance a year later. In 2005, he also served as the Interim Associate AD for Development and has served as the Interim Associate AD for External Affairs on two separate occasions. (See the official athletic site of the University of Miami at http://hurricanesports.cstv.com/genrel/hernandez_tony00.html for more information.) Additional calls to Jimmy Sexton were also placed on December 7, 2006 at 10:54 am, 8:27 pm, 8:29 pm and 8:32 pm. Randy Shannon was officially announced as Miami Head Coach on December 12, 2006. And while the Raleigh-Durham/Chapel Hill area is not a bad place to live and work, trying to make the Wolfpack a national championship contender, I think, would be harder than at Arkansas. Yet, more circumstantial evidence that Nutt was interested in the N.C. State job after Chesty got canned (heh – Chesty, cans). On December 3, 2006, two phone calls were placed by Nutt to a Raleigh, North Carolina phone number (919-819-83XX) at 10:41 am and 10:43 am. At 10:49 am, a phone call was placed to Nutt’s agent, Jimmy Sexton. At 12:39 pm and 12:40 pm, another set of calls were placed to North Carolina and another to Jimmy Sexton, respectively. Additional calls were placed to Sexton at 1:43 pm, 2:23 pm, 3:36 pm, 7:45 pm and 8:09 pm. At 2:44 pm, Nutt made a phone call to 919-819-83XX, in Garner, North Carolina. On December 5, 2006, Nutt placed a call to a Raleigh, North Carolina phone number (919-513-71XX) at 12:39 pm. After the call to North Carolina, Nutt called his secretary twice. At 1:11 pm, he received another call from Raleigh from the cell phone number 919-819-83XX. That call lasted one minute. Nutt called the previous number back three minutes later. That call lasted seven minutes. Twenty-seven minutes after that call ended, Nutt’s secretary returned his previous phone call. Tom O’Brien was officially announced as the North Carolina State University head football coach on December 9, 2006 NUTT'S WANDERING EYE (WOMEN) Is, or has, Nutt been doing dark deeds with Bragg? There's no smoking gun on this one either, but he's certainly in close contact with a woman that he's supposedly not involved with and who does not work with him on a constant basis. For the months of November through February 16, 2007, there were a total of 2,104 text messages exchanged between Nutt and Bragg. On November 26, 2006, there were 56 text messages exchanged between Nutt and Bragg (32 of which were exchanged between midnight and 2:00 am). During the two days preceding the Capital One Bowl on January 1, 2007, a total of 118 text messages were exchanged between Nutt and Bragg. On January 1, 2007, the day of the Capital One Bowl, Nutt sent a text message to Bragg at 11:41 am—19 minutes before kickoff against Wisconsin. Now, it's commonly known that a loophole in NCAA rules allows for hyper-abuse of text messaging to get after recruits. My own talks with top-level coaches revealed this, along with articles in major publications. McAfee says about the same thing, before writing this: Kodi Burns of Fort Smith Northside High School and Lee Ziemba of Rogers High School were two of the most highly sought after recruits in the state of Arkansas. National Signing Day for recruits was February 7, 2007. There were zero text messages sent from Houston Nutt to either Burns or Ziemba. During the same time period over 2,000 text messages were exchanged between Houston Nutt and Donna Bragg. THE REACTION Freeland responded to McAfee in a letter on March 19, accusing him of "malicious and defamatory statements" and the illegal interference charge. He also seeks a meeting between Nutt, McAfee, himself and an attorney representing McAfee. This makes me think they (Nutt, et. al.) don't want this dirty laundry aired and want to, frankly, be pretty resonable in settling the mess without harm to any parties involved. You can read the scanned letter here What will come of this? I don't know. But it does provide some interesting grist for the mill during the offseason.