MORGANTOWN – West Virginia University’s Board of Governors wants to expedite resolution of a $4 million claim against former football coach Rich Rodriguez so football season won’t interfere with the litigation.
“It is anticipated that Rodriguez’s schedule as the head football coach at the University of Michigan will provide little or no time for Rodriguez to defend or otherwise represent his interests,” Jeffrey Wakefield wrote in a Feb. 25 motion for a scheduling order in Monongalia Circuit Court.
“The university represents that it will dedicate the necessary time and resources to place this action in a posture for resolution in the summer of 2008,” Wakefield wrote.
The motion carries a threat that if Rodriguez elects to protract the legal contest, it will distract him from his new job.
Wakefield works for Thomas Flaherty of Charleston, who sued Rodriguez on behalf of the board of governors on Dec. 27.
The university seeks to enforce a $4 million buyout clause.
In a separate Feb. 25 brief, Wakefield asked Circuit Judge Robert Stone to compel Rodriguez to answer questions about his job switch.
Wakefield wrote that Rodriguez has declined a request for information on his conversations with Michigan representatives.
Rodriguez has also declined to identify West Virginia recruits he contacted from Dec. 16 to Dec. 18, Wakefield wrote.
Rodriguez’s attorney, Sean McGinley of Charleston, has objected to the inquiries as irrelevant and not likely to lead to discovery of evidence.
Wakefield declared the questions relevant, “given that Rodriguez claims that his termination of the contract with the university was not voluntary but prompted by the anticipatory breach of the contract by the university.”
He wrote that information on contacts with recruits “is relevant to whether Rodriguez was honoring the terms of his contract with the university.”
“Information concerning why the University of Michigan football position was accepted by Rodriguez and the timing of the acceptance is relevant to determining whether Rodriguez’s actions were in any way related to any alleged breaches of contract by the university,” he wrote.
Wakefield asked Stone to order Rodriguez to pay the university’s legal bill for preparing the motion to compel responses.
Rodriguez resigned Dec. 19 before the season-ending victory in the Fiesta Bowl. Interim Coach Bill Stewart led the Mountaineers in that victory before he was named the new head coach.
After the university sued Rodriguez, he removed the suit to U.S. district court at Clarksburg. U.S. District Judge John Bailey remanded the case to Monongalia County.