With budgets stretched tight, a growing number of universities are looking at how to fire coaches without having to pay sometimes hefty contractual buyouts. However, weaponizing of NCAA violations against their own programs for financial convenience is among the tactics that Gentry Estes of the Nashville Tennessean warns could be a costly decision for schools.
Especially when coaches turn to Michael Lyons.
When the University of Tennessee fired its head football coach, Jeremy Pruitt, he turned to Lyons to help hold the school accountable for the $12.6 million buyout due to him under the terms of his contract. Lyons, who Estes called “a specialist” who is “emerging as a crusader for coaches’ buyouts,” previously represented David Beaty when the University of Kansas tried to use a low-level NCAA infraction as cause to avoid his $3 million buyout in 2018.
The school ultimately settled with Beaty for $2.55 million, which Lyons called “a victory not only for the Beaty family but for college coaches everywhere. The current trend of backtracking on your contractual obligations in an effort to find a way not to pay these contract buyouts, I think not only is that a growing trend, but I think this is an example of what not to do.”
“Cynical as it might sound, contracts that nullify buyouts for the slightest infraction really could become more popular as a way to fire unsuccessful coaches at a discount,” wrote Estes, adding that Pruitt’s situation could set a precedent. “It's that ‘growing trend’ referenced by Lyons. As such, Lyons can’t give in. That means, one way or another, UT might have to.”
The full article, “Ugly as Jeremy Pruitt’s Firing is for Tennessee Football, It’d be Worse in Court,” is available here.