Rodriguez

MORGANTOWN - Monongalia Circuit Judge Robert Stone has set an April 3 hearing on West Virginia University's motions to speed up a suit against former football coach Rich Rodriguez and make him answer questions about his decision to leave.

Rodriguez resigned as Mountaineer coach Dec. 19 to coach at the University of Michigan.

The university sued him Dec. 27, seeking to enforce a $4 million buyout in his contract.

Rodriguez filed a counterclaim that challenged the validity of the buyout and accused university officials of breaking oral promises.

Stone has taken no action in the case, except to set the hearing.

For weeks the case rested at U.S. District Court in Clarksburg, after Rodriguez removed it from the courthouse in Morgantown.

U.S. District Judge John Bailey sent it back to Stone in February.

Now Stone must decide how fast the case should unfold and how much the university should know about Rodriguez's negotiations with Michigan.

The university has moved to expedite the case, arguing that Rodriguez can't effectively represent his interests after summer practice begins at Michigan.

Rodriguez has not answered the motion.

The university has also moved to compel Rodriguez to answer questions and produce documents about his communications with Michigan.

His attorney, Sean McGinley of Charleston, objected to the inquiries Feb. 12. He called them irrelevant and not reasonably calculated to lead to discovery of admissible evidence.

University attorney Jaclyn Bryk of Charleston wrote March 10 that, "…the test for relevancy is necessarily broader than the test for admissibility."

Circumstances around Rodriguez's employment are relevant, she wrote, "given that Rodriguez claims that the termination of his contract with the University was not voluntary but prompted by the anticipatory breach of the contract by the University."

Bryk wrote, "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 the contract by the University."

Rodriguez signed a letter of intent to coach Michigan on Dec. 16, she wrote, with the same $4 million provision as his West Virginia contract.

"Representations and discussions which occurred by and between Rodriguez and the University of Michigan concerning a similar provision would provide information as to whether Rodriguez does indeed view such provisions as invalid and unenforceable," she wrote.

"It would also provide information as to the types of representations, if any, made which would prompt Rodriguez to sign a contract containing a similar provision," she wrote.

Bryk works for lead university counsel Thomas Flaherty, of Flaherty Sensabaugh and Bonasso of Charleston.

Jeffrey Wakefield of Flaherty's firm also represents the university, as do Robert P. Fitzsimmons and Robert J. Fitzsimmons of Wheeling.

McGinley, who practices at DiTrapano Barrett and DiPiero, represents Rodriguez along with Marvin Robon and Ethan Davis of Maumee, Ohio.

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