WVU sues Rodriguez for $4 million

By Cara Bailey | Jan 2, 2008


MORGANTOWN - West Virginia University has sued former head football coach Rich Rodriguez after he left the school before completing his contract.

The university seeks $4 million from Rodriguez, payable in increments over the next two years.

To view of a copy of the lawsuit, click here.

Rodriguez, a Marion County native, left the school Dec. 19 to take the head coaching job for the University of Michigan football team. He had a contract with WVU through Jan. 15, 2014.

The suit was filed Dec. 27 in Monongalia Circuit Court by Thomas V. Flaherty of Flaherty, Sensabaugh and Bonasso PPLC. Alex Macia, Robert P. Fitzsimmons and Robert J. Fitzsimmons are also co-counsel for WVU.

According to the suit, the university claims they did not breach any agreement with Rodriguez, therefore they seek $4 million "as a result of his voluntary termination ... from the position of Head Coach of the West Virginia University football team."

Rodriguez, who already has left the school and did not coach the team in the Jan. 2 Fiesta Bowl in Arizona, spoke about the lawsuit while in Orlando for the Capital One Bowl with Michigan on Jan. 1.

"I was obviously disappointed to read in the paper and see on the news I was getting sued," Rodriguez told The Associated Press. "I don't think that's normal. That's not normal protocol, I didn't think. Imagine my shock watching the game at the hotel with my family and it comes across that ticker, getting sued for $4 million. That wasn't a good night."

Rodriguez was hired Dec. 21, 2002, as the coach for the Mountaineers. The contract originally was through Jan. 15, 2010. However, in June 2006, Rodriguez entered the First Amendment of his contract, which provided more compensation and provided Rodriguez would pay if he left his contract before Jan. 15, 2013.

The Second Amendment to the contract was entered into on Aug. 24, 2007. This contract against raised Rodriguez's pay and extended the contract by one year, to Jan. 15, 2014.

The Second Amendment stated that if the coach terminated his employment because of material and substantial breach by the university and gives the school written notice within 90 days of the breach, the school would pay the coach.

However, if the coach terminates his employment with any coaching responsibility at another university, he is required to pay the school $4 million within two years of the termination if it occurred between Aug. 31, 2007 and Aug. 31, 2008. One-third of the money is due 30 days after termination of the contract.

For Rodriguez, this means he would have to pay WVU more than $1.35 million by Jan. 19. Another one-third is due on the first anniversary of the termination and the last installment is due by the second anniversary.

While in Phoenix for the Fiesta Bowl between WVU and Oklahoma, WVU President Mike Garrison told The Associated Press that the matter would be resolved quickly if Rodriguez would "do what the contract says he should do and agree to pay the buyout, but it's really in the hands of the courts right now and we're pleased to see it move forward."

According to the suit, the university claims it fulfilled all material and substantial terms of the agreement with Rodriguez, including supplemental pay for the assistant coaches' salary pool and certain Puskar Center renovations.

The university also claims Rodriguez accepted the head coaching job at Michigan prior to resigning from WVU.

Therefore, the school seeks a court to award $4 million from Rodriguez for his breach of contract.

Rodriguez, who played at WVU, went 60-26 in his seven seasons with the Mountaineers. He led the school to four Big East championships and several bowl games.

Monongalia Circuit Court case number 07-C-851

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