Fired Mississippi Football Coach Loses Legal Fight
(CN) - Alcorn State University had the right to fire its head football coach when it took issue with his handling of school funds, the Mississippi Court of Appeals ruled.
Ernest Jones signed a four-year contract in August 2008 to be the head coach of the Alcorn State Braves at a salary of $140,000 per year.
After just one season, however, athletic director Darren Hamilton gave Jones written warning that his job was in jeopardy. Hamilton said Jones had overstepped his authority by opening a "Run-N-Gun" bank account to hold fund-raising money.
Hamilton also said Jones bought shoes for the team outside of its exclusive footwear deal with Nike, failed to follow procedure in resolving an order with Russell Athletic, and reserved hotel room for a game without authority.
The Alcorn State Grievance Committee gave Jones a due-process hearing in January 2009 and recommended termination. University president George Ross agreed.
Jones sought relief from the Clairborne County Circuit Court, but a judge dismissed the petition and the Mississippi Court of Appeals affirmed last week.
Recommending the firing of Jones was neither arbitrary nor capricious, according to the nine-page ruling.
"The committee found that there was no administrative oversight on how the Run-N-Gun account was operated, how cash and check receipts were processed, or how withdrawals were made," Judge Tyree Irving wrote for a three-judge panel.
"As for the inefficiency in resolving the issue of an $11,000-goods order that was made without authority, the committee found that Jones was uncooperative in assisting ASU's athletic department in resolving the problem," Irving added.
The decision notes that the six other judges with the court concurred.