Canning Coach Who Toed the Line Was Justified

     (CN) – An Indiana college basketball coach was not guaranteed that he could stay on the job as long as he did not violate a zero-tolerance policy, the state appeals court ruled.
     Daniel Sparks began as the head basketball coach at Vincennes University in 1979. He also served as the athletic director and professor of physical education.
     After an investigation into false information on a 2003 recruit’s application, Sparks avoided disciplinary proceedings by forfeiting his tenure and agreeing to a zero-tolerance policy.
     As part of his agreement with the school, Sparks was also denied a pay raise and stripped of his duties as athletic director.
     Sparks continued to coach the Trailblazers in the 2004-05 season, but Vincennes decided not to renew the coach’s contract for the following season.
     Sparks sued the university for fraud and breach of contract, claiming that it had to keep him employed because he did not violate the zero-tolerance policy.
     The Knox Superior Court agreed, but Vincennes argued on appeal that it was free to decide against renewing Sparks’ employment for any reason since he gave up his tenure.
     The Indiana Court of Appeals concluded last week that the university actually deserved summary judgment.
     “We conclude that there is no genuine issue of material fact, that the designated evidence indicates that Sparks was not guaranteed continued employment with the university, and that summary judgment should have been granted to the university,” Judge Terry Crone wrote for a three-member panel.
     “We find nothing in the agreement or the 2004-05 academic year contract that evinces an intent to guarantee Sparks’ employment beyond the contract term as long as he committed no misconduct,” the judge added.
     This year, the Trailblazers celebrated the 75th year of its men’s basketball program by reaching the junior college version of the Final Four under head coach Todd Franklin.

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