I can’t say with 100-percent certainty, but this might be the first time a college coach has filed a lawsuit against both his former and current employer over a contractual issue.
The parties involved are John Chavis, Texas A&M and LSU. That’s one of the few things that are clear in this case.
In November of last year, it was reported that Chavis and LSU had reached an agreement on a one-year contract extension that would keep the defensive coordinator with the Tigers through the 2015 season. A month and a half later, the first reports surfaced that Texas A&M had reached out to gauge Chavis’ interest in its coordinator vacancy; a week later, Chavis-to-TAMU was a done deal according to media reports. Feb. 13, Chavis’ hiring by A&M was made official.
What happened between Chavis’ LSU contract extension and Chavis’ official A&M hiring is at the heart of a lawsuit filed Friday by the coordinator regarding a $400,000 buyout LSU is pursuing, KBTX-TV is reporting. In the lawsuit, Chavis claims he doesn’t owe the six-figure buyout… but if he does, A&M is responsible for paying it.
As for the particulars of the lawsuit, here’s what the television station has gleaned:
Chavis claims under his contract, he was given a right to terminate his employment agreement with LSU without cause with 30 days notice. If there were between zero and 11 months left on the deal, Chavis claimed he would owe nothing to LSU, but if between 11 and 23 months were left, he would owe $400,000 to the university.
On January 2, 2015, Chavis claims LSU Director of Athletics Joe Alleva demanded that Chavis pay the university $400,000. On January 5, Chavis says he turned in this 30-day notice to terminate the contract without cause, making his last day February 4.
“Based on Chavis’ notice of termination on January 5, 2015, the ‘termination date’ according to the Amendment was effective thirty days after the written notice served to LSU or (sic) February 4, 2015, which falls within the 11th month remaining and Chavis’ Employment Agreement,” reads the suit. According to Chavis, he does not owe LSU $400,000 as a result.
On the A&M side, Chavis’ suit states that his current employer is “currently obligated to satisfy or cause to be satisfied the liquidated damages, if any, associated with Chavis’ previous Employment Agreement with LSU.” The problem with that? A&M is “unwilling to tender the liquidated damages demanded by LSU because it does [not] believe that liquidated damages are called for under the Employment Agreement as mentioned above,” the suit claims.
I don’t know how this will play out on either side, but I’m going to make a double batch of popcorn, just in case.
UPDATE [9:00 p.m. ET]: John Chavis remains in good standing with his current employer.
Texas A&M University denied any claim that a suit has been filed against it by Chavis, nor does the institution agree that their new defensive coordinator owes the LSU Tigers anything.
Texas A&M released a short statement Friday night, via The Advocate:
UPDATE [10:55 p.m. ET]: Texas A&M University released a short statement early Friday evening. LSU responded in kind later that night.
LSU expects John Chavis‘ lawsuit to be dropped over matters of proper jurisdiction, while the university counter-sued its former defensive coordinator in order to claim the $400,000 buyout stipulated in his previous contract: