By Eric Mayes
The Daily Item
LEWISBURG " A former Bucknell University wrestling coach and star wrestler have sued Bucknell alleging defamation, and are seeking unspecified damages.
The trial started earlier this week. Michael Garcia of Mount Carmel and former coach Richard Ferraro of Winfield have sued the university in Union County Court.
Ferraro left Bucknell University in April 1997 after a university investigation into allegations that he violated recruitment rules. He had coached at the school for 24 years. School and athletic association officials said Ferraro helped set up improper internships and financial aid positions to Garcia's benefit.
When Ferraro resigned, university officials issued a press release on which the suit hinges. Ferraro and Garcia allege that it defamed their character.
Garcia came to Bucknell as a two-time Class AA state champion from Mount Carmel High School. He won the East Coast Wrestling Association 150-pound championship as a sophomore.
Bucknell barred him from the wrestling team midway through the 1996-97 season, but he sued and won, completing the season. He left school the following year.
The NCAA also conducted an investigation and placed the school's wrestling program on probation for four years.
The NCAA Division I infractions committee also placed sanctions on the school's off-campus recruiting and awarding of financial aid in wrestling, while ordering Bucknell to complete reports on its recruiting process for NCAA approval.
The NCAA's sanctions followed an internal investigation. The school had already placed itself on probation for two years.
The trial is expected to continue next week, with NCAA officials expected to testify Monday. Judge Harold Woelfel Jr. is presiding over the case. Judge Louise O. Knight recused herself
Court records show Garcia and Ferraro are represented by Richard Angino of Harrisburg. Renee C. Mattei Myers with the law firm of Reed Smith LLP of Harrisburg is listed as Bucknell's counsel