CINCINNATI - It could be an eventful summer for University of Cincinnati head football coach Tommy Tuberville, for reasons that have nothing to do with football.
The new UC coach is facing a seven-day trial in August in a federal civil securities case in which eight people accuse Tuberville of helping to defraud investors in an Alabama hedge fund.
A hedge fund is a privately-managed investment pool in which ownership stakes are typically sold to wealthy and experienced investors.
The lawsuit alleges Tuberville "identified and solicited investors" in TS Capital Management and provided "strategic direction and guidance" to the fund.
The investors allege their investments were mismanaged and spent for the personal benefit of its co-founders, Tuberville and John David Stroud. The plaintiffs seek damages in excess of $2 million.
Tuberville has denied the allegations, claiming he, too, was a victim of Stroud, a money manager he met when he was a coach at Auburn University. In a recent affidavit, Tuberville said he invested $450,000 in the fund and has never been repaid.
Stroud was indicted last May on state criminal charges in Alabama. He has refused to answer questions in the related federal civil case, citing his Fifth Amendment protection against self-incrimination. Stroud's criminal trial on 21 securities violations is scheduled to begin June 10 in Lee County Circuit Court.
Last month, a federal judge in Montgomery, Ala. rejected a motion to delay that trial while the criminal charges were pending.
"The inability to get answers out of Stroud has hampered Tuberville's defense," the Feb. 28 motion stated. "Plaintiffs had no direct contacts with Tuberville regarding their investments … Rather, Plaintiffs are bringing claims against Tuberville based on what Stroud allegedly told them about Tuberville."
Tuberville's Birmingham lawyer said there is no evidence that Tuberville had any control over TS Capital and said he plans to request a dismissal of the case before it goes to trial in August.
"They have all confessed that the coach had nothing to do with soliciting their investments," said Attorney Vic Haslip. "Most of them hadn't met him."
In court records, Tuberville said a trial in August would "seriously impact my livelihood and chances of success" at UC:
"I have an entirely new team and a new coaching staff. It is critical that I be in Cincinnati in the crucial weeks leading up to the start of the regular college football season. My duties and obligations to the team, my assistant coaches, and the university during this first season are non-delegable.
"My not being present for my first season when players arrive and start preparing for the season would be an extreme hardship on them, me and the university and would be unfair to players and my coaching staff who are depending on me as head coach," Tuberville said in those court records.
U.S. District Judge Myron Thomson ruled that the case should move ahead to trial. But he agreed to revisit the issue "if circumstances materially change."
Both sides have indicated a willingness to participate in mediation.
Tuberville did not return calls seeking comment. Athletic Director Whit Babcock said UC was aware of the civil case before the University hired him in December.
"Coach Tuberville has been forthcoming in this matter," Babcock said via email. "His participation will not impact our football team. We look forward to a successful resolution."