WHEELING – The former athletic director of Wheeling Jesuit University has filed a lawsuit accusing the school of breach of contract, discrimination and wrongful termination.
Cameron Perry filed his complaint in Ohio Circuit Court against Wheeling Jesuit University Inc. He says the case stems from his demotion and ultimate discharge on March 9.
Perry became WJU’s athletic director Sept. 1, 2013, according to the complaint, which also details his job duties and compensation package. On his first day of work, Perry says Frank Bauer suggested Perry’s title be changed to Associate Athletic Director and that Bauer be designated Director of Athletics.
Perry says Bauer was hired right before he was, and that Bauer initially was hired as a consultant, who “would spent most of his time off-campus engaged in fundraising and marketing.”
In the fall 2013 semester, Perry says he met with WJU Associate Vice President for Administration Donald B. Kaminski about Bauer disregarding the division of labor and encroaching on his job duties. He said coaches were confused about the running of the department.
Problems continued in 2014, according to the complaint. Perry said he had a discussion with Mark Phillips, chief of staff to WJU President Rev. James Fleming, about the confusion in the athletic department that was supposed to be private. Yet, Perry says Phillips shared the contents of the conversation with Father William Rickle, Kaminski and Bauer.
In June 2014, the school hired a retired athletic director to perform an audit of the athletic department. During a lunch meeting about that audit, Perry says he told Bauer, Kaminski, Rickle and Thomas G. Pucci, the former California University of Pennsylvania AD doing the audit, that he was dyslexic.
Also, in July or August of 2014, Perry was the subject of a peer performance evaluation that, he says, were used by Rickle to develop a Performance Improvement Plan for Perry. He was told in a letter from Kaminski that a preliminary assessment was given as “an effort to identify areas outside the formal evaluation and provide the employee with an opportunity to improve those areas in a timely manner.”
Still, before a meeting with Rickle concerning this assessment, Perry was told by Kaminski that he was being demoted to Associate Athletic Director. In the subsequent meeting with Rickle, Perry says his dyslexia was mentioned.
“Father Rickle orally expressed to plaintiff that the draft athletic travel policy, as well as a previously sent email, demonstrated plaintiff’s dyslexia and the negative impact plaintiff’s dyslexia was having on his work,” the complaint states. “Further, Father Rickle told plaintiff that he felt the plaintiff’s disability was the reason for his alleged deficiencies at work.”
In a later meeting, Rickle said “that unless the NCAA speaks another language, he did not see how plaintiff would be successful at interpreting and applying NCAA policies.”
In March 2015, Perry was fired from his position of Associate Athletic Director. He says Bauer also was fired from the AD job.
Perry accuses WJU of wrongful termination, disability discrimination, breach of employment contract, intentional infliction of emotional distress, fraud in the inducement and retaliation. He seeks compensatory and punitive damages, pre- and post-judgment interest, attorney fees, court costs and other relief.
He is being represented by R. Dean Hartley, J. Michael Prascik and David B. Lunsford of Hartley & O’Brien in Wheeling. The case has been assigned to Circuit Judge Ronald E. Wilson.
Ohio Circuit Court case number: 15-C-228