University of Kansas

David Beaty’s lawyer: Former KU football coach did not break NCAA rules

Parting words from Kansas football coach David Beaty

Hear what David Beaty had to say during his final news conference as Kansas’ football coach
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Hear what David Beaty had to say during his final news conference as Kansas’ football coach

An attorney for former Kansas football coach David Beaty reiterated Wednesday his client’s stance that he did not break NCAA rules.

Michael Lyons, who was part of the Deans & Lyons LLC team that submitted Beaty’s lawsuit against KU Athletics, said Beaty has maintained his innocence throughout his communication with KU over the past few months. The athletic department has yet to pay Beaty’s $3 million buyout after he was fired in November, announcing Tuesday that possible NCAA infractions were discovered during exit interviews at the end of the 2018 football season.

If that were the case, KU could claim Beaty’s firing was for cause, which would void the $3 million payout in his contract.

“Until (Tuesday), I had never heard from anybody at Kansas that had suggested that David himself had ever violated NCAA rules,” Lyons said. “The first time we heard that was (Tuesday).”

“I believe it’s objectifiably false to say that David has violated any NCAA rule. We’ll see what comes out with their investigation.”

KU Athletics, when contacted Wednesday, referred back to a specific part of its previous statement relating to what happened when it learned of possible violations:

“KU contacted the NCAA and the Big 12 Conference and began an investigation into the matter,” KU’s statement from spokesman Jim Marchiony said. “Beaty refused to cooperate with the KU review and, ultimately, the NCAA took the lead in the still-ongoing investigation.”

Tuesday’s lawsuit said KU athletic director Jeff 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.

Long promised Beaty that he would receive the $3 million under the terms of his contract, according to the lawsuit.

In Beaty’s complaint, filed in U.S. District Court in Kansas, he accused KU’s athletic department officials of looking to “find something” on the former coach, like finding a “dead hooker in (Beaty’s) closet” to justify withholding his $3 million.

Lyons talked more Wednesday about the “dead hooker” comment in the suit.

“We put it in our complaint because we believe it to be true,” Lyons said. “Obviously it’s terribly offensive to David, who’s given his heart and soul to KU.”

Marchiony, in Tuesday’s statement, said that Beaty’s lawsuit contained inaccurate accusations, “including that KU’s Director of Athletics made salacious comments about seeking reasons to withhold payment from Beaty. Simply, that did not happen.”

Lyons, who made clear he was not an NCAA compliance lawyer, gave his version of events from the last few months. He said initially that KU Athletics told Beaty there was an allegation that a member of his staff had violated an NCAA rule.

“No. 1, we don’t believe that to be true,” Lyons said. “No. 2, no one has ever said that David himself has violated an NCAA rule. The first time I heard that was (Tuesday). No. 3, again we don’t believe any of that to be true, but notwithstanding whether it’s true, how is that a legal defense to somebody you terminated without cause back in November? So it’s nonsensical.”

Beaty’s lawsuit also disputed the notion that he hadn’t cooperated with KU’s investigation. Beaty’s lawsuit said the former coach sat for an interview on Feb. 27 and that KU had acted with no urgency on the investigation, except to tell prospective employers that Beaty is the subject of an ongoing NCAA investigation.

Lyons later added that the complaint has “facts that we believe are going to come out that frankly should be embarrassing to Kansas. We think that it’s supported by the witnesses and the evidence in the case.”

One potential problem for Beaty in the matter, depending on the severity of the alleged potential violations, could be the NCAA rulebook. Under section of the NCAA’s manual, a head coach is “presumed to be responsible for the actions of all institutional staff members who report, directly or indirectly, to the head coach.” In addition, head coaches must “promote an atmosphere of compliance.”

That means, in the NCAA’s eyes, Beaty could be held responsible for staff wrongdoings even if he was not directly responsible for them.

Per his contract, Beaty was to receive a $3 million buyout in six equal payments starting in December if he was fired without cause.

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Jesse Newell — he’s won an EPPY for best sports blog and previously has been named top beat writer in his circulation by AP’s Sports Editors — has covered KU sports since 2008. His interest in sports analytics comes from his math teacher father, who handed out rulers to Trick-or-Treaters each year.