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The RichRod Saga

Details about Rich Rodriguez’s agent Mike Brown’s negotiated deal with the University of Michigan recently came out, when the school’s AD Bruce Madej reported that the newly hired Rodriguez had signed a general offer sheet back in December for a six-year contract worth $2.5 million annually. Rodriguez’s base salary will be $300,000, and the rest of his compensation will come from outside sources, such as radio and TV deals and an apparel contract. The package will thus be a significant increase from the $1.7 million Rodriguez was believed to have made last season with West Virginia (plus the $287,000 in bonuses his former employer recently doled out). And Rodriguez’s buyout clause at Michigan will remain the same as it was at West Virginia: $4 million.


Not long ago I blogged on this matter when West Virginia University sued Rodriguez in state court seeking to recover on a $4 million buyout clause in Rodriguez’s contract, after the coach left the university to become the head coach at Michigan. But in a state where Rodriguez’s name is mud, and where he continues to maintain a residence despite a plethora of recent intimidation tactics—a death threat received by his brother’s son, who also had antagonistic messages taped to his locker at East Fairmont (W.Va.) High.; a fan who posted directions to his residence on the Web; a mailbox pulled up and left in his front yard; and hostile signs hung on his fence—Rodriguez successfully removed the case to federal court, arguing that at the time the lawsuit was filed, he was already a citizen of Michigan (and also that he couldn’t get a fair trial in West Virginia given the negative publicity).

But, as Howard Wasserman points out over at, there are many legal points against a court removing the case to federal court, and in the school’s motion to remand the matter back to state court filed last Friday, it hit on said points. Concurrent with its motion, the school also amended its complaint to add a claim for breach of contract. The first payment on the buyout clause apparently was due the day of the amended complaint (30 days after his employment terminated) but was obviously not paid.

The Rodriguez camp maintains that Rodriguez doesn’t owe the school a cent, or in the alternative, the entire buyout sum. For example, Brown continues to allege that the university signed documents that contained promises made to Rodriguez when he last signed with the school that were never in fact met—and hence Rodriguez was fraudulently induced to sign his last contract, thus rendering the clause legally void. This stance will be a tough hurdle for Rodriguez to clear in a courtroom however. “Fraudulent inducement” requires proving the inducer’s state of mind at a certain point in time—i.e., not only did the school not do whatever it allegedly promised Rodriguez, but the school never had any intention of doing what it allegedly promised when it entered into the agreement. This will require a slew of convincing third party testimony and other extrinsic evidence, and even that will weighed against the character and believability of Rodriguez, who by all accounts is somewhat of a peculiar character at best. SI’s Austin Murphy, for example, writes today that back in December, seventeen days before his team faced Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl, Rodriguez, who had six years remaining on his contract, dispatched a grad assistant to hand his resignation letter to WVU athletic director Ed Pastilong. And what about Shred-Gate? Purportedly, sometime between December 16 and January 3, when he actually physically vacated his former offices, Rodriguez “shredded a small mountain of documents, perhaps even some player personnel files, before leaving. The coach has insisted that the paperwork was ‘useless to everybody’: old game plans, personal correspondence, etc.” Rodriguez, however, vehemently denounces the rumor. “The things they are saying are not true. It’s a lie. How can you put out lies and think it’s OK? They don’t care what the truth is, they just want to smear Rich Rodriguez.”

And Rodriguez’s agent Brown has fired back at the school, according to Brown is alleging that another client of his—former West Virginia offensive coordinator Calvin Magee—said he wanted to stay at the school, but “a WVU administrator told Magee that he would not be a candidate to replace Rodriguez and pointed to Magee’s black skin as explanation.” Magee eventually resigned and has joined Rodriguez as Michigan as associate head coach and offensive coordinator.

4 replies on “The RichRod Saga”

Brown should be disbarred and ran out of the industry. he has no personal interests in what is best for rod. Now he’s leading a smear campaign against the state of West Virginia. The Calvin Magee story, as sad it sounds has no proof, and is backed up by the fact that he announced he was following Rod to Ann Arbor. Why would the school hire him as the head coach if he was already packed and leaving morgantown? Rod had the groundwork in place to be the hometown hero, to turn this program into a Michigan, Alabama, Florida State powerhouse school. Brown thought he needed to make more money, his job is to get people into higher paying positions so he will benefit with a percentage increase of his salary. And that is drawn from the Raises and offers and scare tactics of Coach Rod is leaving what can the boosters do to keep him? It worked two or three times until this year when The AD said enough is enough Rod, NCAA dictates you share the revenue generated by the Football program.

UPDATE: So it seems that recently released emails, written over a five-month period, validate Rodriguez’s claim that WVU indeed made promises to him that were broken—a claim which is the foundation of his legal defense in the school’s breach of contract claim. And a second resignation letter, obtained by the AP, confirms Rodriguez’s displeasure with “how slowly WVU was responding to additional demands he made in December 2006,” and also claims that school president Mike Garrison told Rodriguez that “he did not believe in buyouts” and might eliminate it entirely [from Rodriguez’s contract].” reports that said emails also show Brown “fighting to get his client more operational and marketing control over the football program, and over money Rodriguez helped raise through a booster organization he founded. They also show Brown threatening to take his client elsewhere as early as mid-November,” and an allegation by Brown that state Gov. Joe Manchin was interfering with the football program.

Remember, the fraudulent inducement claim will require Rodriguez to prove by a preponderance of the evidence that the school never intended to fulfill promises it made to Rodriguez at the time of the signing. The claim about some oral modification that may have been inferred or directly stated by Garrison would seem to be a separate charge on the surface, although parol evidence concerns would seemingly render any talks between Garrison and Rodriguez irrelevant to the contract-in-fact that was actually agreed to (although fraud is an exception to said rule).

an astute viewer will notice that #1 HS Football Prospect Terrelle Pryor is seated right behind Rodriguez

The e-mails released validate RR’s position vs. WVU? Orly? Please explain how? Brown is the one communicating in the e-mails since RR didn’t bother to learn to use a computer and despised e-mail. I guess Brown should have been smart enough to read RR’s contract to see that RR was required to report any problem with the promises the university made in writing within 90 days? Or maybe RR should have held a tighter leash on his agent?

If Brown and RR are so stupid to not have done this, and neither are smart enough to negotiate that Michigan should have paid RR’s buyout, well, they get what they deserve.

An astute viewer will also realize that Pryor is milking everyone and will probably go to Penn State.

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