The big news in West Virginia is West Virginia University’s lawsuit against former head football coach Rich Rodriguez, which was filed yesterday in the Circuit Court of Monongalia County in Morgantown.  West Virginia University Board of Governors for and on behalf of West Virginia University v. Richard Rodriguez, Civil Action No. 07-C-851.  Here are the complaint and exhibits, which are Rodriguez’s contract with WVU and two amendments, as well as WVU’s first set of discovery requests to Rodriguez.  Rodriguez has 20 days to answer or respond to the complaint and 45 days to answer the discovery requests.

    WVU seeks a declaratory judgment that:

Rodriguez is required to pay the University Four Million Dollars ($4,000,000.00) as a result of his voluntary termination of the Agreement by virtue of his resignation from the position of Head Coach of the West Virginia University football team prior to the expiration of the Agreement and prior to August 31, 2008.

WVU also seeks declaratory judgments that WVU “did not materially and substantially breach the Agreement,” and that “Rodriguez never provided written notice to the University of any material and substantial breach as required by Article V(D)(1) of the Agreement and amended by the Second Amendment.”  WVU also wants a declaration that Rodriguez is liable for “pre-judgment interest on all sums not paid to the University by the time required by the Agreement, specifically the Second Agreement.”  

    According to the second amendment to the contract, if Rodriguez left his position with WVU between August 31, 2007 and August 31, 2008, he owes $4 million, one-third of which is due 30 days after termination (which would be on January 18, 2008); one-third due on the one year anniversary of the termination; and the final third due on the second anniversary of termination.

   The complaint is a pre-emptive strike by WVU against Rodriguez, whose supporters have suggested that he does not owe the buyout because WVU did not satisfy all of the contract’s requirements, thus relieving him of his remaining obligations under the contract.

     I suspect that WVU’s strategy in filing this action against Rodriguez is motivated as much by its experience with the departure of head basketball coach John Beilein (also to the University of Michigan) earlier this year and negotiations regarding his buyout as by its animosity toward Rodriguez.  At this point, if there was any chance that Rodriguez would make the first payment to WVU or try to negotiate some compromise amount, the lawsuit seems to eliminate that possibility.  Rodriguez probably will file a counterclaim against WVU, alleging that it breached his employment agreement by failing to fulfill the contract. 

    Here are links to The Charleston Gazette’s article on the lawsuit, and an article in the Detroit Free Press last Saturday, which provides some background on the dispute between Rodriguez and WVU.