CHARLESTON - Maybe football wasn't the major part of Jason Huber's college days at Marshall University.
"What kind of things didn't we get into?" said Huber, now an attorney in Charleston at Forman and Huber. "We were very active about political and social issues back then. I was most active during the first Gulf War."
Huber is a Marshall alumnus and was executive chairman of Marshall Action for Peaceful Solutions from 1989-1991. During his years at Marshall, he was arrested while protesting the Gulf War.
"After we were arrested, tried and convicted, it inspired me to go to law school to see how the law could work for me," he has said.
Now, with a second Gulf War, Marshall Thundering Herd football has become a reason to get politically and socially active again for Huber.
He is representing David Ridpath, a former athletic official at Marshall who claims he was made a scapegoat in 1999 when it was discovered the football team had violated NCAA sanctions, in a lawsuit against Marshall's Board of Governors, former general counsel F. Layton Cottrill, outside counsel Richard Hilliard, vice president K. Edward Grose, former football coach Bob Pruett and former president Dan Angel.
Ridpath says he took the professional fall for a program that had certain players who needed to sit out a year before they were eligible for football working at McCorkle Machine Shop and being paid $200 per day by Marshall booster Marshall Reynolds.
When the NCAA needed to reprimand Marshall, Ridpath was demoted but told it wouldn't be reported as a form of corrective action.
However, he says it was reported as a form of corrective action, and he was threatened by Angel, Cottrill and Gross in order to keep him from publicly challenging his demotion.
He adds that Pruett had earlier stopped him from investigating the jobs scam. Ridpath maintains he had no knowledge of anything illegal going on.
His case was sent to Judge Robert King at the U.S. 4th Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond after the defendants appealed a decision by U.S. District Judge Robert Staker stating the case could proceed.
King returned issued an opinion May 11 sending the case back to Huntington to proceed.
"My client has always been and is now ready to move forward and clear his name," Huber said. "The case has been sent back to District Court. Now we'll have a scheduling order then we'll start discovery, which includes depositions, interrogatories and subpoenas."
Huber says Ridpath's demotion has kept him from finding another job as a collegiate athletic official. Ridpath is currently a professor at Ohio University.
"The transfer end of itself was bad enough," Huber said. "The fact that it was reported that the transfer was a reaction in compliance is the scarlet letter. He was fraudulently told it wouldn't be reported as a reaction.
"The facts of every case are unique. The principles upon which Dr. Ridpath's case are founded are not, and that is simply that public officials are not permitted to destroy your career through lies and false accusations in order to cover up their own unlawful behavior."
With his case, Ridpath charges the defendants with fraud, breach of contract, violation of free speech and violation of due process rights. He is seeking $1 million in damages.
Huber contends that the defendants only had to clear Ridpath's name with the NCAA to avoid litigation but have chose not to.
"It was unconscionable what the university and the upper-echelon administration did to my client," Huber said.
But then again, he's pretty used to getting fired up about things at Marshall.
"It's ironic," he said, "to say the least."