An Appalachian lightning bolt

Dexter Jackson outruns the Michigan defense to score on a 68-yard touchdown in App State’s 34-32 win over Michigan on Sept. 1, 2007.

BOONE — An arbitrator has ordered the former owners of the High Country Grizzlies, DT Sports, to pay former player and App State standout Dexter Jackson $9,500 plus court costs and two years of interest after a 16-month legal battle over Jackson’s contract, according to a ruling entered May 22.

“Upon hearing (DT Sports’) motion to dismiss, arguments of counsel, reviewing evidence and hearing witnesses, the arbitrator found for (Jackson) and determined that the defendant DT Sports LLC d/b/a High Country Grizzlies was liable to (Jackson) in the sum of $9,500,” the judgment confirming the arbitration order stated.

DT Sports are ordered to cover Jackson’s court costs, plus two years of interest on the contract that was ruled to have been breached on May 25, 2017.

“We’re happy with the arbitrator’s ruling,” said Nathan Miller, Jackson’s lawyer. “We hope they will honor the judgment and pay it.”

The judgment was made by arbitrator Michael Helms, a retired Superior Court judge, after hearing the cases on March 8. The ruling was confirmed by Watauga County Superior Court Judge Alan Hornburg in April.

Miller said he and Jackson plan to go through collection procedures, saying the Grizzlies haven’t made any indications they will satisfy the judgment.

DT Sports’ lawyer Stacy “Four” Eggers IV declined to comment.

Jackson originally filed suit in January 2018 against DT Sports and former general manager Williams “Willie” Thompson, claiming breach of contract and unpaid fees.

The High Country Grizzlies, a minor league arena football team, ceased operations for the 2019 season, as announced in February. In the statement announcing the ceasing of operations, Paul and Christina Potter, who bought the team from DT Sports prior to the 2018 season, said they would reorganize and reassess the state of the franchise.

The team no longer has a website or team offices in Boone. However, DT Sports is still listed as an active organization, according to the North Carolina Secretary of State’s corporation listings.

The ruling, with the possible exception of an appeal, ends a 16-plus month case that started in January 2018 when Jackson, who played for the Grizzlies in the first four games of the team’s inaugural 2017 season, filed suit.

According to the lawsuit, Jackson signed with the newly formed Grizzlies in December 2016 following months of deliberation, according to the suit. The compensation as part of the sales representative contract included $3,000 upfront and up to $9,500 in incentives based on ticket sales to be paid before the season started in spring 2017, plus incentives such as health insurance payments and employment at Anytime Fitness.

The complaint alleges that after being paid the initial $3,000 up front and moving to the area in January 2017, the Grizzlies never paid Jackson the $9,500 owed after multiple demands, with requests for money starting in February 2017 before the season started. Jackson left the Grizzlies in May 2017 in the middle of the season.

In the countersuit filed by the Grizzlies and Thompson, the team claims that Jackson signed a standard player contract as required by the National Arena League in February 2017, which made his sales representative contract null and void.

The NAL’s 2017 standard player contract allows compensation of $150 per game, $50 for a win and provides housing costs for non-local players not to exceed $200 per month. Also included in the contract included in the lawsuit was a per diem allowance of $29 for away games only and a stipulation that teams can assist players in finding employment but can’t make guarantees.

After the 2017 season, the matter went to arbitration in the NAL. In August 2017, then-NAL Commissioner John Gregory ruled in favor of Jackson for the $9,500 owed. The Grizzlies announced less than a month later they would leave the NAL and join the American Arena League, in which the team would play for the 2018 season. Representatives for the team said in statements that the AAL allowed the team to develop regional rivalries and have more games.

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