A federal judge from the District of Kansas has denied the University of Kansas’ motion to dismiss a lawsuit filed by former football coach David Beaty after the school withheld a $3 million buyout.
KU had sought unsuccessfully to have the lawsuit dismissed on the grounds that the Kansas Wage Payments Act doesn’t cover liquidated damages.
Beaty filed the lawsuit last spring against Kansas Athletics, Inc., the school’s athletic department, alleging breach of contract and unpaid wages of $3 million owed to him after his November 2018 dismissal. Beaty was given a multi-year contract to turn KU’s football program around and the contract guaranteed payment if he was terminated without cause. In November, Kansas Athletic Director Jeff Long emphasized — publicly, privately, and in writing — that Beaty’s termination was without cause and that the coach would be paid $3 million owed under his contract, according to the plaintiff.
“Based on Long’s promises and his contract, Beaty agreed to remain at KU and finish out the season. But Kansas Athletics officials immediately began discussing what it would take to avoid the $3 million payout, emphasizing the need to find ‘something’ on Beaty such as ‘a dead hooker in [his] closet,’” according to attorneys at Texas-based Deans & Lyons, LLP, and Kansas City-based Scharnhorst Ast Kennard Griffin PC.
On Dec. 13, Beaty was informed that KU had initiated an investigation into allegations involving a member of the football staff and that Kansas Athletics would not make the guaranteed payments until its self-initiated investigation was completed.
Beaty “cooperated with the investigation and has been unequivocal that he is unaware of any violations of any NCAA rules while the head football coach at KU,” according to the attorneys. The suit alleges that Kansas Athletics breached its contract with Beaty by not making the guaranteed payments after terminating Beaty without cause.
KU denied the allegation, countering specifically that the above conversations never took place and charging that Beaty’s filing is “full of false claims and factual misstatements.”
Former Associate Athletics Director Jim Marchiony issued the following statement: “Immediately following the end of the season, Kansas Athletics staff conducted standard exit interviews of all football coaches and staff, and through that process we learned of possible NCAA violations allegedly committed by Beaty. KU contacted the NCAA and the Big 12 Conference and began an investigation into the matter. Beaty refused to cooperate with the KU review and, ultimately, the NCAA took the lead in the still-ongoing investigation.”
Beaty has issued the following statement: “For weeks my offer to interview and my requests for my documents were ignored. When it became clear that KU was unwilling to provide me the complete set of materials I requested, I went ahead and offered a specific date in early February on which I could interview even without all of the material requested. At that time, however, KU informed me that the NCAA had decided to pull the investigation from KU’s internal team and take it over itself. Within twenty-four hours, me and my attorneys were in touch with the NCAA investigator and an interview date was immediately agreed to. I promptly interviewed with the NCAA and answered each and every question asked. With clearance from the enforcement staff, I even provided KU a draft of my interview transcript.”
Furthermore, he claims the NCAA process prohibits him from discussing specifics of the investigation or his interview with the NCAA.
“I am able to communicate that I voluntarily interviewed with the enforcement staff regarding alleged NCAA violations, and I have fully cooperated with the investigation. I will continue to cooperate with the NCAA should they have any follow-up requests for information but otherwise look forward to the prompt resolution of their work,” according to the statement.
In May, the school filed its motion to dismiss the case, claiming that Beaty and DB Sports LLC are Kansas citizens suing a Kansas corporation and there is no basis for diversity jurisdiction, as well as that Kansas Athletics is “an arm of the state” and not a citizen for diversity jurisdiction purposes. The 11th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution bars individuals from suing states in federal court.
In response, Beaty’s lawyers pointed out that he is “a born and raised Texan,” and that Beaty moved to the state after KU fired him, with plans to remain there “indefinitely.”