Friday, February 22, 2008
WVU wants judge to dismiss Rodriguez's counterclaims
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. -- West Virginia University wants a judge to dismiss counterclaims Rich Rodriguez raised to the lawsuit over his $4 million buyout, arguing he can't benefit from a contract, then refuse to comply with the parts he doesn't like.
The university filed documents Friday in Monongalia County Circuit Court in Morgantown, arguing that Rodriguez fails to offer legal foundations for his claim the contract is unenforceable. He claims he signed it under false pretenses, expecting certain verbal promises from the administration to be kept.
But Rodriguez knew what he was doing and had help from lawyers, financial advisers and agents when he negotiated and signed the document, WVU argues.
In January, a month after he accepted the job as head coach at Michigan, WVU paid Rodriguez a $287,000 incentive payment for goals reached during the 2007 season. Now it wants him to pay the $4 million.
"Rodriguez obtained all of the benefits of the employment contract, but cries foul when the very contract he entered is enforced against him," WVU attorneys Tom Flaherty and Jeff Wakefield wrote. "Binding, written contracts are not unenforceable just because a party does not like its terms in hindsight. Rodriguez terminated his employment and now must deal with the ramifications of the termination."
If Rodriguez believes he made a bad deal, the lawyers continue, "then he needs to look to his own agents and advisors who counseled him ... not the university."
Rodriguez has argued WVU failed to keep several promises it made to get him to sign his contract, including the reduction or elimination of the buyout clause. WVU denies such a promise was ever made.
Other things on Rodriguez's wish list included his own Web site to promote the football program. WVU claims it was still working on that and other requests -- some of which had legal ramifications -- when he resigned.
WVU sued Rodriguez on Dec. 27, sparking a bitter and continuing public feud with charges and countercharges of lying, destruction of documents and more. The case was briefly sent to federal court, where a judge decided the case should be heard in state court.
The lawsuit has been assigned to Circuit Court Judge Robert Stone, but no hearing dates have been set.
Though his resignation came as a shock to fans, the gradual disintegration of the relationship between Rodriguez and the WVU athletic department was documented in a series of e-mails outlining the coach's failed attempts to gain total control of the football program.