Court Finds No Foul in Coach’s Forced Departure

     (CN) – A North Carolina college basketball coach accused of verbally abusing his players cannot challenge his allegedly forced retirement in court, the state appeals court ruled.
     Eric Tucker coached the Fayetteville State University Broncos women’s basketball team for 16 years without any negative evaluations or reprimands.
     However, campus police launched an investigation in 2009 into allegations that he verbally abused his players and threatened to terminate their scholarships.
     According to the Fayetteville Observer, Tucker was also accused of slapping a player after a tournament loss, but Chancellor James A. Anderson said the investigation did not confirm that charge.
     The university informed Tucker that he could resign or be terminated. Tucker chose to announce his retirement.
     Later that year, Tucker sued FSU and Anderson alleging that they forced him out of his job without just cause.
     Tucker argued that the university grievance system did not allow him to receive the damages he sought. FSU countered by arguing Tucker did not prove that the university had breached his employment contract.
     The trial court granted the university’s motion to dismiss, so Tucker took the case to the North Carolina Court of Appeals.
     Justice Ann Marie Calabria also found in favor of the university, explaining on behalf of a three-judge panel that Tucker should have exhausted his administrative appeals before taking FSU to court.
     “Those procedures included, inter alia, a written grievance to the Director of Human Resources, a hearing before a grievance committee, and ultimately review of the grievance by the University of North Carolina Board of Governors,” she wrote.
     Calabria noted Tucker’s argument that going through that process would cause damage to the basketball team.
     “However, plaintiff provides no authority to support his contention that his loyalty to the basketball team satisfies his burden of showing the inadequacy of the administrative remedy,” she wrote.
     Tucker finished his tenure as coach of the Broncos with 299 career victories.

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