A former Kennesaw State University cheerleader who took a knee during the national anthem at a KSU football game has been paid $145,000 in a subsequent settlement, documents show.
Former KSU cheerleader Tommia Dean filed a lawsuit in 2018 after receiving backlash to her public protest with four other cheerleaders during the national anthem at a KSU football game in September 2017.
Dean listed KSU’s then-President Sam Olens as a defendant in the civil suit, alongside Scott Whitlock and Matt Griffin who worked for the KSU athletics department at the time.
But her lawsuit was negated when Dean settled with the Georgia Department of Administrative Services for $145,000, the agreement shows.
The document, signed by Dean and a representative for the state department on Oct. 25, was provided to the MDJ on Wednesday by the department in response to an Open Records Act request.
“A compromise has been reached,” the agreement states. “The intent of this agreement is to buy peace of mind from future controversy and forestall further attorney’s fees, costs, or other expenses of litigation, and further that this agreement represents the compromise, economic resolution of disputed claims and, as such, shall not be deemed in any manner an admission, finding, conclusion, evidence or indication for any purposes whatsoever, that the KSU defendants acted contrary to the law or otherwise violated the rights of Dean.”
The settlement sets out that the Georgia Department of Administrative Services agreed to write a check for $93,000 to Dean personally, and another check for almost $52,000 to her attorneys to cover legal costs, by Oct. 25.
Cobb Sheriff Neil Warren and former state Rep. Earl Ehrhart, R-Powder Springs, were also defendants in Dean’s lawsuit, but were not part of the settlement with the state department.
Dean claimed they persuaded Olens to keep the cheerleaders off the field during the national anthem in two football games following their kneeling stunt.
She claimed Warren and Ehrhart were racially motivated in their complaints to Olens about the cheerleaders’ public protest, and that she had since suffered emotional stress.
In February, a federal judge dismissed Ehrhart and Warren as defendants in the case, finding no evidence they acted with racial animus.
That judge’s order was then appealed by Dean’s lawyers in respect of Warren only, and the appeal regarding the sheriff is the only ongoing legal matter in the case.
“Yes, we are appealing the order dismissing Warren to the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit,” Dean’s attorney Bruce Brown told the MDJ recently.
Ehrhart had this to say recently about his dismissal as a defendant in the case: “The courts and Judge Batten have thrown out the meritless, politically motivated lawsuit against me and justice has prevailed. My counsel crushed the political hack attorneys hired by the KSU cheerleader to perpetrate this fraud and character assassination.”