Former USA captain and current League Director Sushil Nadkarni has filed a joint lawsuit with American Cricket Adacemy of St Louis founder Ajay Jamb against USA Cricket and members of USA Cricket’s Nominating and Governance Committee (NGC).
Named as defendants are USA Cricket, NGC members Vince Adams, Nisarg Patel, Jim Isch and Sara Farooq. The case, number 2023CV30137, was filed with the District Court of Jefferson County, Colorado on February 1, 2023.
The lawsuit alleges numerous violations of the USA Cricket constitution by the NGC and requests that USA Cricket be forced to deconstruct the NGC, which the plaintiffs argue was assembled unconstitutionally.
The plaintiffs also asked the court to order USA Cricket to suspend the already delayed 2021 elections until the issue has been determined by the court. In response, District Court Judge Tamara Russell signed a motion on Februay 2 “that the USA Cricket February 6, 2023 election be stopped until… A hearing on the preliminary injunction can be heard by the court”.
Two days after the court’s order, USA Cricket announced a delay in the elections, attributed to “unforseen circumstances of not being able to complete an Independent Audit [sic] of the USAC’s membership, voter, and candidate eligibility lists for the elections,” failing to mention the court order.
At the heart of the lawsuit, Nadkarni and Jamb take issue with the composition of the NGC, particularly with inclusion of Vince Adams and Nisarg Patel. Vince Adams currently serves on the NGC while retaining his current role on the USA Cricket Cricketing Committee, while Nisarg Patel is currently a paid employee of the board as a cricketer under contract. The USA Cricket Constitution states that “[t]he ICC, USA Cricket and the USOC shall not appoint an officer, director or employee of or consultant to their respective organizations to the [NGC]”.
In addition to Adams being constitutionally ineligible due to his current membership in the USA Cricket Cricketing Committee, the lawsuit seeks a Motion for Limited Discovery requesting Adams’ address, due to belief that Adams resides outside of the United States. The constitution states that all officers of the NGC must reside in the United States.
The lawsuit also points out that “the NGC does not have a member from the USOC as required by the Constitution.”
Various unconstitutional actions are listed in the lawsuit which have transpired as a result of the appointment of the NGC. Among them, the lawsuit challenges the appointment of Patricia Whitaker as an Independent Director, in spite of her having served as a women’s selector within the past three years, contravening the constitutional requirement for Independent Directors to have not served as an officer within USA Cricket for three years prior to selection.
The lawsuit makes good on a promise in a January 15 email to the USA Cricket board listing 21 cosigners, requesting that “the NGC be formulated with strict adherence to the USAC Constitution, and subsequently perform a review and roll back any past improper actions. This needs to be done before the upcoming elections, failing to do this will result in legal action.” Following the email, USA Cricket published a list of candidates, excluding Nadkarni and Jamb from eligibility for the Player Director and League Director elections respectively.
Regarding the exclusion of Nadkarni, Jamb and others, the lawsuit claims the NGC “is preventing good standing, eligible members from appearing on the ballot in the upcoming elections upon arbitrary and capricious bases.” And that the NGC “and certain USAC Board Members are working together to form a Board that provides personal benefit to the board members, in lieu of upholding the Constitution and mission by which USAC is predicated upon.”
As an example of the claim, the plaintiffs state “the NGC has recommended candidates to the board that are not members of USAC,” and that the NGC announced only one Player Director candidate, even though the constitution requires “all Player Director nominees who meet the Constitution’s eligibility requirements to be put forward as candidates for the position.”
The constitution also requires that at least three candidates for League Director be approved as long as three or more applied, and the NGC put forward only two candidates. While Jamb was excluded, Anj Balusu was included as a candidate, even though Anj is not listed in the official voting members list.
Baluju’s absence from the voters list could perhaps be caused by an issue with the USA Membership portal, in which members who had paid their dues but did not fill out some fields in their application were deemed ineligible to vote. The fields apparently did not have a required field notice or asterisk. Members were permitted to submit their application without being prompted to complete the fields.
Apparently this has been the case for several “members,” and this is the purpose of the audit mentioned by USA Cricket in their announcement regarding election delay. The plaintiffs take issue with the selection of the auditor and the fees charged by the auditor, information which was not presented to the board prior to the arrangement of the audit.
The plaintiffs allege that disqualified members have not been reimbursed.
The plaintiffs also allege that some leagues and international players have had their proper voting rights stripped due to poor oversight and management.
On January 23, 2023, the plaintiffs allege that USAC recently changed its registered agent to an agent located outside of the state of Colorado. This would be a violation of Article 90 of the Colorado Corporations and Associations Act, which requires individual registered agents to be primary residents of Colorado. The new registered agent is USA Cricket CEO Vinay Bhimjiani of New York. The change was allegedly made without board approval.
Emerging Cricket has reached out to Vinay Bhimjiani and Atul Rai several times regarding these matters, but have not yet received a reply.
The news continues a tumultuous start for the cricketing body of the USA, which was approved as an Associate Member by the ICC in 2019, after the previous maligned USACA was expelled in 2017.
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