Cover story: Sports Illustrated stands by reporting in Mathieu story; Nelson suit against SI dismissed

Update: A judge has dismissed a lawsuit filed by former UCLA basketball player Reeves Nelson against SI. Details below.


Tyrann Mathieu is on cover of this week’s Sports Illustrated. However, it is not exactly the way he envisioned.

piece written by Thayer Evans and Pete Thamel focuses on the personal problems that have the LSU star on the sidelines this year. It contains some allegations that Mathieu might have broken some NCAA rules. It could derail a return to LSU next year.

The most interesting part of the piece is that it includes quotes from his father, who is serving a life sentence in prison for murder.

Mathieu declined to be interviewed in the story and claims SI harrassed him. From Fox 8 in New Orleans:

Sheila Mathieu calls the article “unfortunate” and says she can’t understand why Sports Illustrated would respond so viciously to a family’s decision to keep private matters private.

“They twisted things and cobbled together details from past articles because we wouldn’t sit down with them,” she told FOX 8 Sports.  “We have always believed in being a tight-knit family. God first, family second, work and school third. That’s what Tyrann is doing now, and he’s on an avenue to success, making good grades and putting his life in order.”

A Mathieu family lawyer wrote SI, asking the magazine to leave him alone.

Demand is made that you cease and desist from any attempts at making contact with Mr. Mathieu or any member of his family.

There also are allegations that Sports Illustrated tried to bribe a promoter to get damaging material about Mathieu. Knowing SI, I have to say that notion is ridiculous.

Here’s Sports Illustrated’s response:

Sports Illustrated stands behind the reporting and the facts of the story. These absurd allegations are completely fabricated and with obvious motive.

Thamel did a podcast with SI’s Richard Deitsch. Thamel said that even though Mathieu isn’t playing, he still is “the most interesting player in college football.”

“People are fascinated by Tyrann Mathieu,” Thamel said.

Thamel didn’t discuss the allegations by Mathieu in the podcast. He said he and Evans covered the story through interviews and by using their sources at LSU.


Meanwhile, in other legal news involving the magazine, Nelson won’t get his day in court against SI. From the San Marino Tribune:

A judge today tossed a defamation lawsuit brought by former UCLA basketball player Reeves Nelson against Time Inc., the parent company of Sports Illustrated, and a reporter concerning an article critical of the player and the Bruin program.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Mary Ann Murphy agreed with attorneys for the media conglomerate and reporter George Dohrmann that the complaint concerning the Sports Illustrated story “Not the UCLA Way” infringed on their clients’ right to free speech. She also found that Dohrmann had numerous sources to back up the facts in his article.

“This man spent a lot of time and talked to a lot of people,” Murphy said.

Nelson’s attorney, Olaf Muller, declined to comment outside the courtroom. He argued during the hearing that Murphy was incorrect in her finding that Nelson, although a college athlete at the time, was nonetheless a limited public figure who had to demonstrate that Sports Illustrated and Dohrmann acted with malice toward him.

Muller said Nelson was an amateur who did not even have a publicist.

Defense attorney Daniel Petrocelli also declined to comment.











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