I’m late with this, but the uproar over the Supreme Court’s decision in Caperton v. A. T. Massey Coal Company, Inc. diverted my attention from the hearing last week in West Virginia University Board of Governors v. Rodriguez.  As far as I can tell from media accounts (I did not attend the hearing), the hearing was something of a draw.  

    According to the Associated Press story in last Friday’s Charleston Gazette, Monongalia County Circuit Judge Robert Stone ruled that Rodriguez can present evidence that he was fraudulently induced to sign the contract that contained the $4 million buyout requirement, and granted WVU’s request to compel the production of documents related to Rodriguez’s hiring and contract negotiations with the University of Michigan.  

    Judge Stone also dismissed the West Virginia University Foundation, Inc. as a third-party defendant, although the basis for the dismissal is not clear.  Rodriguez had claimed that the only way to determine whether WVU had actually been harmed by his departure was to look at the Foundation’s books.  Rodriguez also claimed that the Foundation was a necessary party because it was “always the parties’ intent” that the Foundation would receive any payments pursuant to the buyout. I’m not sure that makes the Foundation a necessary party, but Rodriguez may be trying to get the same deal as John Beilein, who makes his buyout payments to the Foundation (and presumably receives a tax benefit as a result).  

    Judge Stone also declined to rule on the motion to expedite the trial schedule, and cautioned the parties that their hopes for a mid-summer trial were not realistic.  The parties were supposed to confer earlier this week to talk about a schedule, but apparently that didn’t happen.  The deposition of Ed Pastilong, WVU’s Athletic Director, is scheduled for April 18, while Rodriguez’s is scheduled for April 21.  Interestingly, WVU wants an agreement  to maintain the confidentiality of the videotape and written transcript, but Rodriguez has not signed on yet. 

    Finally, an Associated Press story by John Raby in today’s Gazette reports that neither Bob Huggins, WVU’s basketball coach who was hired last April to replace John Beilein, not Bill Stewart, the football coach who replaced Rodriguez, has signed a contract for his position, although each has signed a term sheet.  Here are summaries of the term sheets, which the AP received through a Freedom of Information Act request. 

    I would think that WVU’s experience would make it eager to have the coaches sign the contracts (which seems to be the attitude of other universities and professional franchises), but according to Raby’s article, handshake agreements are good enough for Athletic Director Pastilong.