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GS Close to Settlement with Company Co-Owned by Sen. Staton

In an update to a story 13WMAZ first reported more than a year ago, documents show Georgia Southern University and a company co-owned by State Senator Cecil Staton are close to reaching a deal.

In 2011, the university ended a contract with Georgia Eagle Media to broadcast the school's sports events, saying the company owed them about $53,000.

Documents obtained through an open records request from the Georgia Southern Office of Legal Affairs outline what took place at mediation between Georgia Southern and Georgia Eagle Media.

View those documents here.

The parties met to settle their dispute September 28th and reached two main conclusions.

One, Georgia Eagle Media will pay Georgia Southern University $15,000 in cash. That's less than a third of the money the school still contends the company owes for breach of contract.

Two, Georgia Southern will offer Georgia Eagle Media the opportunity to be a network affiliate for the 2013-2014 athletic season. Georgia Eagle owns all the radio stations in Statesboro, and that agreement will allow the university to broadcast its games locally.

The memo goes on to explain why Georgia Southern agreed to the terms, although the attorney contended Georgia Eagle Media still owed the full amount.

Attorney, Maura Copeland, wrote that during mediation she made a demand for the full amount of cash, but Georgia Eagle was unwilling to pay that.

Copeland wrote that Georgia Eagle Media then threatened the university with a lawsuit, and at that point considering the potential costs of litigation, she chose to pursue a settlement.

She wrote that a court battle would cost taxpayer money with no guarantee of a favorable judgement in the full amount. Georgia Southern is a state funded university.

Copeland concluded, "The University pursued this debt to the final step before costly, uncertain and time-consuming litigation. Without certainty of recovering the full amount, it seemed to me a more responsible use of state resources to take the offered settlement and avoid expending more than we stood to recover in litigation."

Senator Staton was not available for comment, but referred us to his attorney Wendell Horne.

Horne said the two parties hope to have signed settlement in the next few days.

Staton won re-election to the state senate in July, and this month, the Republican Caucus reappointed him as majority whip for the next legislative session.

He is also a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee and chairman of the subcommittee on Higher Education, which makes recommendations on laws and funding for state universities and colleges.

In an e-mail from 2010, not previously provided in prior open records requests, an exchange between Cecil Staton and his former employee Terry Harvin, gives context to the dispute. Read Staton's e-mail to Harvin on the company's financial situation here.

In past statements to 13WMAZ and in a document--provided by Georgia Southern University and posted below--Staton states that he personally is not responsible for the debt.

Ga Southern Settlement


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