Michael Lyons recently joined respected OrangeBloods.com and Rival.com reporter Anwar Richards on his college football podcast for a candid and often illuminating discussion of the protracted contract dispute between Kansas Athletics and former head football coach David Beaty.
Lyons was instrumental in securing a $2.55 million settlement for Beaty, bringing to a close the contentious dispute that arose following Beaty’s November 2018 dismissal. During the announcement of his dismissal 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 the remaining $3 million owed under his contract. Within weeks Long began to characterize the dismissal as “for cause” allowing the school to forgo paying the remaining amount owed.
For Lyons, the case was about exposing a scheme that was designed for the sole purpose of avoiding paying Beaty the money due him under his contract, even if that savings came with a human cost.
“It is easy to forget that these coaches are human beings,” Lyons told Richards during the podcast. “David is one of the truly good guys. I would trust him to lead my son without hesitation. It hurt my soul to see what he was going through simply because Kansas wanted to avoid paying him.”
According to Lyons, from the start of his tenure as athletic director Long was open about his intent to fire Beaty and replace him with long-time friend Les Miles.
“When new leadership comes in changes are expected, but their approach was so out of the realm of the ordinary,” he said. During the course of litigation, it was alleged that Kansas Athletics officials had emphasized a need to find “something such as ‘a dead hooker in [Beaty’s] closet’” to avoid the $3 million payout.
Instead, officials relied on “self-reporting” minor NCAA infractions in order to retroactively claim that his dismissal was “for cause.”
“It is an uncommon approach in this setting. It is more typical in corporate cases where executive compensation is an issue,” Lyons explained. “In this case, however, what they did was trigger litigation and opened themselves up to a pandora’s box of unintended consequences, including a host of allegations of NCAA violations not limited to football.”
“In the end, the school’s financial resources were misused. It has created embarrassment and their reputation has taken a bit hit,” said Lyons. “It was a case study in what not to do.”
The full episode, entitled “The Man Who Fought For David Beaty,” is available here.