Texas, Oklahoma Take Football Fight to Court

     AUSTIN, Texas (CN) – The new offensive coordinator for the University of Texas at Austin football team sued Oklahoma A&M, claiming his old school is “harassing and intimidating” him and interfering with his contract.
     Gregory Joe Wickline sued the Board of Regents for the Oklahoma Agricultural and Mechanical Colleges, acting for and on behalf of Oklahoma State University, and its vice president and athletics director James Michael Holder, in Travis County Court.
     Wickline took a job as offensive coordinator with the University of Texas at Austin in January, leaving his job as offensive line coach for Oklahoma State.
     He claims that his OSU employment contract “provides that OSU will release Coach Wickline from the OSU contract and any liability for liquidated damages, or otherwise, if Coach Wickline is offered and accepts a position as the ‘offensive coordinator (with play calling duties) at another NCAA Division I-A Institution.’ UT is such an institution and Coach Wickline continues to be UT’s offensive coordinator and continues to have ‘play calling duties,'” according to the complaint.
     “Defendants, however, had no intention of letting their star offensive line coach go to UT. Indeed, shortly before UT offered Coach Wickline the offensive coordinator position, defendant Holder told Coach Wickline that he would never release him from the OSU contract because he was ‘the best offensive line coach in the country.'”
     Wickline claims the defendants are harassing him and interfering with his new job.
     He claims that Holder sent a letter to his UT office on March 24, claiming that Wickline did not actually have “play calling duties” and had not been hired as UT’s offensive coordinator. The letter demanded more than $593,000 in liquidated damages, Wickline says in the lawsuit.
     In a May 6 letter, Wickline claims, OSU accused UT of helping him avoid the terms of his OSU contract by giving him the “misleading title of offensive coordinator.”
     OSU sued Wickline in Payne County Court, Oklahoma, on Oct. 17, alleging breach of contract.
     The OSU complaint claims says that “Wickline is neither the offensive coordinator, nor does he have play calling duties. Instead, he is an assistant coach in charge of the offensive line, which is a lateral move from Wickline’s position at OSU and one that does not fall within the exception to pay liquidated damages. … Wickline is obligated to pay the liquidated damages specifically bargained for under the contract, as amended.”
     But in his countercomplaint, Wickline claims that “The (OSU) lawsuit is baseless and its sole purpose is to interfere with Coach Wickline’s ongoing employment relationship with UT and the UT contract.”
     Wickline seeks damages for mental anguish and tortious interference, and wants declaratory judgment construing the meaning of the contractual phrase “offensive coordinator (with play calling duties).”
     He is represented by David Beck, with Beck Redden, of Houston.

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