28 June 2011
Former Pitt Football Coach Seeks State Review of Termination
PITTSBURGH, June 28, 2011 -- Michael Haywood, former head coach of the University of Pittsburgh football team, has asked the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission and other state and federal agencies to investigate the university’s firing of him, The Buzbee Law Firm announced late today.
In a corresponding notice letter sent to the university, Haywood attorney Tony Buzbee raises concerns about Pitt's lack of investigation and the coach’s termination sixteen days after he was hired.
On Dec. 31, 2010, Haywood was arrested in South Bend, Ind. for alleged domestic abuse involving the mother of his then-21-month-old child. Within hours of the allegation, the university fired Haywood. The alleged victim soon thereafter filed court papers asserting Haywood was not a danger to her or the couple’s child. The submitted paperwork also raised questions about the accuracy of the police report.
Buzbee said, "In their rush to judgment, Pitt officials did not bother to contact the alleged victim or even the coach himself. I believe the university violated its contract with the coach, the university's employment procedures, and the Due Process Clause of the U.S. Constitution. Had Pitt conducted even a cursory investigation, it would have determined that the alleged incident simply did not occur as reported, and the termination would not have occurred. We are exploring other motives for Pitt’s firing of Coach Haywood."
Haywood’s five-year contract with Pitt would have paid him up to $7.5 million, plus other incentives. Buzbee said Haywood seeks a state investigation and a meeting with university officials.
Haywood said, "I deeply apologize for all the problems this incident has caused, including the 16 people who were once part of my staff. However, the allegations as reported are completely false."
Hat-tip to Cardiac Hill for scooping everyone on this.
Of course, the whole "the alleged incident did not occur as reported" thing probably would have more teeth if he didn't enter a "diversionary program" in Indiana where he took responsibility for "grabbing" the victim, entered a "Batterers Intervention Program," agreed to complete community service and pay costs. If this program functions the same as Pennsylvania's program, then it's the functional equivalent of a guilty plea - just a guilty plea you can have off your record if you complete all the conditions of the program.
There's nothing quite embarrassing yourself, your family and your employer and then trying to cash in on it. Well done, Mr. Haywood. Well done indeed.
Buzbee said, while Haywood wants the financial compensation he believes he deserves, that is not his primary goal.
"The monetary part is important of course, but what's more important is that Coach Haywood's name be cleared," Buzbee said. "What the university did tarnished his reputation. He needs to be coaching and that's what he wants to do.
"The only demand that we're really making at this point is 'hey let's sit down. You never asked what happened. We offered to tell you what happened. You didn't want to talk to either the coach or the alleged victim.
" 'So here are the facts now. Admit you made a mistake and let's move past this and let Coach Haywood coach some more.' "
One decision that had already been reached between Haywood and Pittsburgh according to Buzbee was that Panthers officials agreed to pay the buyout on his contract with Miami University in Ohio.
Buzbee said Pitt has refused.
"When the coach was hired by Pitt one of the promises made was that they would pay his buyout with Miami and they simply have not done so, will not respond to our requests that they do so and now Coach Haywood has demand letters from Miami University asking him to pay the $300,000 buyout."
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