ASU paid $100K to settle with former athlete

Appalachian State University agreed in the fall to pay $100,000 to a former Mountaineer football player to settle a lawsuit filed in 2014.

Lanston Tanyi filed a complaint in U.S. District Court in October 2014, alleging that a 2012 sanction by ASU barring him from playing football his senior year violated his rights of due process and equal protection under the 14th Amendment and discriminated against him based on gender in violation of the federal Title IX law. The university and three administrators were named as defendants.

Tanyi and four other male students, including three other football players, were briefly suspended from campus in 2012 while university conduct boards deliberated on allegations of sexual assault from two female students.

A university conduct board found Tanyi not responsible for the more serious charges of sexual misconduct, but did find him responsible of harassment, resulting in a sanction barring him from playing for ASU athletics. His attorney, Luke Largess, said Tanyi learned of the harassment allegations the night before the conduct board hearing, giving little time to prepare a defense.

None of the students were ever criminally charged, as then-District Attorney Jerry Wilson declined criminal prosecution in the incidents after a review of the allegations.

Tanyi went on to graduate from ASU and then enrolled in graduate school at Colorado State, where he played his final season of football. The original complaint alleged that the damage to Tanyi’s reputation might have cost him a chance to play in the NFL.

A July 2015 order by U.S. District Court Judge Richard Voorhees dismissed some of Tanyi’s claims, but allowed several due process claims to proceed.

Court documents indicate that the parties reached a settlement agreement in September 2015, with $75,000 to be paid to Tanyi and $25,000 paid to Tanyi’s counsel, Tin Fulton Walker & Owen PLLC of Charlotte. The case was then slated for voluntary dismissal.

Speaking Jan. 5, Tanyi said he was satisfied with the outcome of the case.

“Obviously I wish it could have been settled the first time, when I was going through everything initially,” he said. “I always had a good reputation up to everything that happened at App State. I don’t like that my reputation may have been tarnished.”

Hank Foreman, spokesman for ASU, said the settlement was paid from the University Endowment Fund. Revenues in university endowments come from private gifts and investment income and do not come from taxpayer dollars.

Foreman said the university did not have liability insurance coverage for the types of claims alleged in the lawsuit.

“The university has consistently denied any wrongdoing in the case, and the settlement agreement expressly denies any liability on the part of any party,” Foreman said.

“While most of the claims initially asserted by Mr. Tanyi were dismissed by the court, the university and the attorney general’s staff evaluate each case for settlement. In this case, we determined that settlement of the remaining claims was prudent after consideration of litigation costs,” Foreman added.

Tanyi, who now works in pharmaceutical sales in Colorado, said he hopes there have been changes to the student judicial process at ASU.

“It was something that I really want to put behind me,” he said.

“He wanted it resolved. He wanted his name cleared. The settlement was some vindication for him, and I think he was satisfied by that,” said Largess.

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