CHARLESTON – After nearly six years of litigation, Marshall University has announced it will pay former athletics official David Ridpath $200,000 to settle a lawsuit that accused the school of making him a scapegoat in a student athlete employment probe.
Ridpath had sued over his 2003 firing in federal court. He named as defendants the Marshall University Board of Governors; then-university president Dan Angel; former head football coach Bob Pruett; university general counsel F. Layton Cottrill; and former senior vice president of operations K. Edward Grose.
Ridpath was Marshall's athletics compliance coordinator from 1997 until he was reassigned to another position in 2001 following a probe into allegations that Marshall football players were being paid $200 a day to work at the MacCorkle Machine Shop -- owned by Marshall Reynolds, an alleged associate of Pruett's – in violation of NCAA rules.
Ridpath had alleged he was told his reassignment to the position of Director of Judicial Programs would not be reported to the NCAA as a "corrective action" in response to the NCAA violations. However, he claimed that was precisely what university officials told the NCAA.
The NCAA stripped the university of some football and basketball scholarships and placed it on four years probation.
Marshall officials eventually stripped Ridpath of his adjunct professor status in 2003. He's now a member of the faculty at Ohio University.
Ridpath, in his complaint, said he was actually hired by Marshall to turn its athletics compliance program around. He said in the time he worked as the compliance coordinator, he developed a compliance manual, created standing committees on coordinating NCAA compliance with admissions, financial aid and eligibility offices and designed a rules education program for Marshall coaches, faculty and staff.
In July 1999, it was reported to Ridpath that some Marshall football players had been provided a copy of a test before the test was given. Ridpath reported this to the NCAA, his complaint said. During that investigation, the inappropriate work situations at MacCorkle Machine Shop were discovered, the complaint said.
Ridpath alleged that Pruett and other coaches knew about the arrangement with the machine shop and even helped players get jobs there. Ridpath claimed he had no knowledge of the situation, but Pruett was alleged to have told the NCAA that he believed Ridpath had been tracking it.
Marshall officials had urged Ridpath to vigorously defend the university before the NCAA during a September 2001 hearing, the complaint said. He was even allegedly given a raise in pay during this time.
In October after the hearing, Ridpath was reassigned to oversee judicial programs at the university, a position he said he wasn't qualified for, but was still paid $15,000 more per year than his predecessor.
Ridpath alleged that university officials, namely Angel, Cottrill and Grose, had threatened his job if he were to complain publicly about his reassignment.
He filed his lawsuit just under a month after he was stripped of his adjunct professor status.
The case was deep into litigation when federal Judge Robert Chambers ordered it off the active docket on Feb. 2 because the parties had reached a settlement.
U.S. District Court case number: 3:03-cv-02037