NCAA (Public?) Policy and Coaches’ Contracts
Auburn University’s new contract with head football coach Gene Chizik does not include a provision that appeared in the old contract that permitted Auburn to suspend Chizik’s pay if he came under investigation by the NCAA, SEC or Auburn for “alleged major rules violations or significant or repetitive violations.” By comparison, Texas Tech’s contract with Mike Leach did not include this provision, although it included a provision specifically requiring the “fair and responsible treatment of student-athletes in relation to their health, welfare and discipline.” Leach was fired for insubordination and allegedly confining a player to small,dark places. Leach later sued Texas Tech for wrongful termination and ESPN for defamation.
Contract provisions can be void as contrary to public policy — at what point would a coach’s contract trigger this principle? Are NCAA rules a reflection of public policy? Does it make a difference whether the source of contract funding is public, nonprofit or private? Has Auburn protected itself in the event that the NCAA requires schools to retain the contractual right to fire coaches who are under investigation?
Leach reaches agreement with Texas Tech: