Last Friday, January 18 was the deadline for former West Virginia University head football coach Rich Rodriguez to pay the first third of his $4 million buyout to WVU. Rodriguez and his representatives had indicated that he would not pay the buyout because of his belief that WVU did not satisfy its obligations under his contract, so it was no surprise when he did not make the payment. Neither was it a surprise when WVU amended its complaint to assert a claim for breach of contract due to Rodriguez’s failure to pay. Here is the amended complaint.
The news this week about Rodriguez has focused on the apparent deterioration of his relationship with WVU in 2007, according to an exchange of e-mails obtained by the Associated Press. Here is the AP story in yesterday’s Charleston Daily Mail.
Rodriguez’s agent was quoted earlier this week as promising a “bombshell” when Rodriguez files his response to the complaint. Beyond the counterclaim that Rodriguez is certain to file, the specific allegations that Rodriguez will make against WVU and its personnel are unknown.
WVU has added to its legal team the lawyer who represented former WVU head basketball coach John Beilein in negotiations over his buyout with WVU. Robert Fitzsimmons of Wheeling was able to reduce the amount of Beilein’s buyout from $2.5 million to $1.5 million, payable in installments of $300,000 over five years. Beilein’s contract did not have any time frame for him to pay the buyout.
WVU likely agreed to accept a reduced amount because it was able to hire a new coach, Bob Huggins, very soon after Beilein’s departure, which enabled the school to avoid the problems typically associated with hiring a new coach. That was not the situation with Rodriguez’s departure, however, which may explain, at least partially, the university’s aggressive stance with him.
Also, Northern District Chief Judge Irene M. Keeley, to whom the Rodriguez case had been assigned, recused herself and reassigned the case to Judge John Preston Bailey, who sits in the Northern District’s Wheeling Division.