MORGANTOWN – On the day before the first hearing in a $4 million struggle between West Virginia University and former football coach Rich Rodriguez, the coach claimed that university president Mike Garrison fraudulently induced him to sign his contract.
Rodriguez's attorney, Sean McGinley of Charleston, wrote April 2 that Rodriguez didn't take a lawyer to a contract meeting with Garrison last year.
"Richard Rodriguez was fraudulently induced to sign the written agreement on which Plaintiff has based its case," McGinley wrote.
The university seeks to enforce a $4 million buyout in Rodriguez's contract. Rodriguez pursues a counterclaim alleging the university breached his contract.
Rodriguez resigned Dec. 19 to coach the University of Michigan.
Monongalia Circuit Judge Robert Stone presides over the case. He set a hearing on a motion from the university to dismiss part of Rodriguez's counterclaim April 3.
McGinley's April 2 brief stated that Garrison and other administrators persuaded Rodriguez to sign a contract extension with "numerous oral promises."
McGinley wrote, "Garrison is himself a prominent West Virginia lawyer, and he made this host of representations to Rodriguez at a time when Rodriguez did not have legal counsel present."
Although contract law usually does not allow "parol evidence" of oral promises, McGinley claims parol evidence can contradict a contract in case of fraud.
"Fraud may be predicated on misleading statements or comments as well as outright false ones," he wrote.
"Further, when a person relies upon a promise which the promisor never intended to keep, and such promise is the means whereby the fraud is perpetrated," he wrote, "the nonperformance of the promise may constitute a fraud."
He wrote, "While the second amendment itself recites the lyrics that both parties were fully represented by counsel, the recital is only technically true at best because Rodriguez found himself without counsel at the time it mattered most."
He wrote, "Indeed, the only attorney in the room at the time Rodriguez executed the contract was the very same person who was coaxing him along with false promises and material representations."