FRANKFORT, Ky. (CN) – A day after the University of Kentucky’s former basketball coach Billy Gillispie sued it for firing him, the school returned the favor, claiming Gillispie refused to sign at least six contracts before he was fired. Gillispie sued the school Wednesday in Dallas Federal Court. The UK sued back in Franklin County Court, insisting it does not owe Gillispie the $6 million he demands – $1.5 million a year for 4 years.
The university claims that Gillispie rejected its last offer on Feb. 17, in a counteroffer that objected to “a number of UK’s proposed grounds for termination for ’cause,’ which included ‘(x) Failure to follow written Athletic Department or other University policies and procedures’ and ‘(xii) Acts of misconduct including, but not limited to conviction of a felony …'”
The university is represented by Stephen Barker with Sturgill, Turner & Barker of Lexington.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story, which was briefly posted today (Friday), inaccurately reported on the Feb. 17 rejection and counteroffer. That version reported, inaccurately, that University actually had fired Gillispie for the terms to which he objected. That is not the case. Courthouse News apologizes for the error.
Here is Courthouse News’ May 28 story on the first lawsuit. Ex-Kentucky Hoops Coach Sues School
DALLAS (CN) – Former University of Kentucky basketball coach Billy Gillispie claims the school’s athletic association reneged on his employment contract by failing to pay $1.5 million per year for the rest of his contract after he was fired.
Gillispie says that on multiple occasions during his employment, the school insisted that their memorandum of understanding constituted a signed, written and binding contract. He says that in correspondences with the school’s general counsel, Barbara Jordan, she emphasized that the MOU was a contractual offer that was accepted.
“The University is satisfied the executed Memorandum of Understanding contains all of the basic terms needed for an employment agreement, and can itself serve as the employment contract for the coach,” Jordan wrote in a Nov. 1, 2007 letter, according to the federal complaint.
And he says that when the Lexington Herald Leader newspaper requested a copy of Gillispie’s contract, Gillispie’s legal counsel was informed by the school that a copy of the MOU would be provided.
In the MOU, the school agreed to pay $1.5 million per year remaining on the contract if Gillispie was terminated without cause.
In his two seasons as head coach, Gillispie had a 40-17 record at Kentucky. In spite of the winning record, Gillispie was fired on March 27 for what the school described as philosophical differences between the coach and university administrators.
“There is a clear gap in how the rules and responsibilities overseeing the program are viewed,” athletic director Mitch Barnhart said at the time. “It is a gap I do not believe can be solved by just winning games.”
Since his firing, the school did an abrupt about-face regarding the MOU, taking the position that the parties never had an employment contract, and refusing to pay the $1.5 million for each year remaining on the agreement, Gillispie says.
“It is our belief that the relationship between [Gillispie] and the University is simply not a good fit in many ways,” Barnhart said after the firing. “The inability to come to an agreement on critical terms of an employment contract after two years of negotiation is just one indication of this incompatibility.”
The school has hired John Calipari as Gillispie’s replacement, who previously coached at the University of Memphis for nine seasons.
Gillispie is represented by Demetrios Anaipakos with Ahmad Zavitsanos Anaipakos.