Thursday, April 3, 2008
Judge grants wins for both sides in WVU-Rodriguez lawsuit
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. -- Rich Rodriguez may present evidence to try to prove his claim he was fraudulently induced to sign a coaching contract with West Virginia that included a $4 million buyout clause he now refuses to pay.
Monongalia County Circuit Judge Robert Stone granted key victories Thursday for both sides in a two-hour pretrial hearing. Rodriguez was not present at the hearing.
The new Michigan coach told reporters after practice in Ann Arbor that he hadn't yet heard the details of the hearing.
Rodriguez resigned in December after seven seasons with the Mountaineers to take the coaching job at Michigan, where he's also agreed to a $4 million buyout, and took some of his coaches and recruits with him.
WVU sued Rodriguez Dec. 27, sparking a public feud marked by accusations of lying, destruction of documents and broken promises. The case was briefly sent to federal court, where a judge decided it should be heard in state court.
WVU claims Rodriguez owes the full amount he agreed to pay in his contract.
Rodriguez, however, claims he signed that agreement under false pretenses, expecting certain verbal promises from the administration to be kept. They included the reduction or elimination of the buyout clause -- a promise WVU denies.
A key motion by WVU was granted, involving the request for any documents related to Rodriguez's hiring and contract discussions with Michigan. The documents could help WVU prove it was Rodriguez who broke the contract and did so because he wanted to -- not because WVU forced him to quit by failing to honor verbal promises.
Though both sides had hoped to conclude the case by midsummer, when practice for football season resumes, Stone said that was unlikely. The judge declined to rule on a motion to speed up the trial, instead ordering the two sides to come up with a case management plan.