Former Kansas Jayhawks football head coach David Beaty has sued the athletic department at the University of Kansas, alleging that it sought to concoct a reason to fire him for cause to avoid a $3 million payout.
In a complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Kansas on Tuesday, Beaty accuses KU athletic department officials of looking to “find something” on the former coach, like finding a “dead hooker in (Beaty’s) closet” to justify withholding the $3 million owed for firing Beaty without cause.
Beaty’s lawsuit said that after he refused the athletics department’s request for an extension to pay the former coach’s payout, Kansas Athletics initiated an NCAA investigation into the conduct of one of Beaty’s subordinates. The investigation was a pretext to reclassify Beaty’s departure from KU as termination for cause, which would void the $3 million, according to the lawsuit.
“I am extremely disappointed in the actions taken against me and my family by the leadership of a program I poured my heart and soul into for 4 years,” Beaty told The Star on Tuesday. “Despite the current legal situation, I remain grateful for every second I had the privilege of serving as the head football coach at Kansas. My family now has lifelong friends in Lawrence, and I got to coach some of the most outstanding young men I’ll ever encounter.”
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Kansas Athletics spokesman Jim Marchiony said that the alleged NCAA infractions were discovered during exit interviews at the end of the 2018 football season, in which the Jayhawks finished 3-9.
“Immediately following the end of the season, Kansas Athletics staff conducted standard exit interviews of all football coaches and staff, and through that process we learned of possible NCAA violations allegedly committed by Beaty,” Marchiony said in a statement. “KU contacted the NCAA and the Big 12 Conference and began an investigation into the matter. Beaty refused to cooperate with the KU review and, ultimately, the NCAA took the lead in the still-ongoing investigation.”
Beaty’s lawsuit disputes the notion that the he hasn’t cooperated with the investigation. Beaty’s lawsuit says the former coach sat for an interview on Feb. 27 and that KU has acted with no urgency on the investigation, except to tell prospective employers that Beaty is the subject of an ongoing NCAA investigation.
“To say that we are disappointed with KU’s actions towards Coach Beaty following his termination without cause would be a significant understatement,” said Alan Bullington, Beaty’s agent. “While we remain hopeful that KU’s leadership will quickly change course and begin honoring their commitment, we fully support the actions taken by David’s litigation counsel to protect his reputation and contractual interests.”
Beaty was hired to lead KU’s moribund football program in 2014, a job he inherited with a limited number of scholarships to offer players.
The Jayhawks’ fortunes did not much change on the football field and Beaty was fired in November, just a few months after new KU athletic director Jeff Long took over for departed A.D. Sheahon Zenger.
The lawsuit says Long told Beaty on Nov. 4, 2018 that the football program needed to move in a different direction and that the coach was being terminated without cause. Beaty, who was fired after the Jayhawks lost a home game to Iowa State, had three years left on his contract at the time.
Long promised Beaty that he would receive the $3 million under the terms of his contract, according to the lawsuit.
By the end of November, however, the lawsuit says that Long and unnamed senior athletics department officials commented that they needed to “find something on Coach Beaty.”
Marchiony, in his statement, said Beaty’s lawsuit had inaccurate accusations.
“The filing is full of false claims and factual misstatements, including that KU’s Director of Athletics made salacious comments about seeking reasons to withhold payment from Beaty,” Marchiony said. “Simply, that did not happen.”
Beaty’s lawsuit said he later received a request to extend the payment schedule for his contract payout for KU to avoid tax consequences. When Beaty said no, the lawsuit says Beaty got a letter from KU’s general counsel Bill White to announce that it began an investigation to see if one of Beaty’s employees broke NCAA rules.