Thursday, August 18, 2011

A View of The U

The situation involving the University of Miami's athletic department continues to look bleaker and bleaker.  But no one should be surprised that a booster with lots of money could insert himself into an athletic program the way Nevin Shapiro did, with apparently the full knowledge and acquiescence of the school administration.
But never mind the potential game forfeitures and calls for the revision of college sports. From the perspective of an employment lawyer there are two fascinating lines of potential work that immediately jump out of this miserable situation.  The first involves current Missouri basketball coach Frank Haith, who was named by Shapiro as someone who knew about some shenanigans involving a basketball recruit while he was the coach at Miami. Coach Haith's contract with Missouri has a clause that allows the Tigers to terminate him for cause if, "in the sole judgment of the University" he is found to have engaged in any conduct during prior employment that violated NCAA regulations.  It seems this situation falls squarely within the scope of this particular clause. The question in my mind is why the coach agreed to this term, since the impending investigation at Miami has been known for at least a year.
The second employment issue involves the current Miami football coach, Al Golden. Golden, along with the Miami athletic director, is a brand-new hire who has absolutely no links to the burgeoning payola scandal. He must feel like he stumbled into a hurricane of uncertainty, especially since Miami failed to advise Golden about the investigation, even though school was well aware of it when it was recruiting him. He could certainly be forgiven for doing an about-face on his coaching contract, especially since he might not have a football team to coach for a few years. 
Breach of employment agreement / fraud in the inducement claims, anyone?

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