University of Kansas

David Beaty’s $3 million lawsuit against KU Athletics can proceed, federal judge says

A federal judge on Thursday declined to dismiss former Kansas Jayhawks football coach David Beaty’s lawsuit against the University of Kansas’ athletics department, allowing the multi-million dollar case to proceed.

U.S. District Court of Kansas Judge Katheryn Vratil overruled a motion by Kansas Athletics Inc., the intercollegiate athletics arm of the University of Kansas, to dismiss the case largely on jurisdictional grounds, according to a federal court docket.

Beaty sued Kansas Athletics in March, months after he was fired toward the end of the 2018 season, the latest in a long procession of losing seasons for the Jayhawks football program. Beaty said he was originally fired by athletics director Jeff Long without cause, entitling the coach to a $3 million payout to conclude his contract.

Beaty claimed that Kansas Athletics would come up with a pretext — an unspecified, self-initiated investigation later taken up by the NCAA into the conduct of one of Beaty’s subordinates — to reclassify the firing as for cause, meaning the university could withhold the payout.

Kansas Athletics has denied Beaty’s claims, particularly an allegation that a senior department official had remarked about needing to “find something” on Beaty, “like a dead hooker in his closet.”

Kansas Athletics’ motion to dismiss in May did not directly address Beaty’s allegations. Instead, it sought to dispense with the case on legalistic grounds.

Kansas Athletics claimed on a motion to dismiss filed in May that federal court was the wrong court for Beaty’s lawsuit. Kansas Athletics also argued that Beaty’s claim under the Kansas Wage Payment Act doesn’t hold up because the payout was liquidated damages, which isn’t covered under the law.

But those arguments didn’t convince Vratil to dismiss the case.

Beaty’s lawyers had said Kansas Athletics’ decision to withhold the $3 million left the former coach in somewhat of a limbo as he was holding off on buying a house in Austin, Texas, where he now lives, until he can learn whether he will receive the rest of the money he believes is owed to him.

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