The Golden Era Isn’t Over: Al Golden Sues University Of Miami
The University of Miami has been sued by its former head football coach Al Golden. The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, contains a short Complaint and a single cause of action — Breach of Contract.
Golden claims that the University of Miami breached his employment contract by failing to pay an agreed upon amount of money attached to the termination without cause clause in his contract. He says that the school owes him roughly $3 million, which continues to grow.
Golden was fired as head football coach of the Miami Hurricanes in 2015, after losing 58-0 at home against Clemson. At the time, athletics director Blake James had positive things to say about Golden despite his meager 32-25 record while head coach of the football team.
“Coach Golden has led our program through some very difficult times and he has done so with class, integrity and a true desire to see our students succeed on the field, in the classroom and in the community,” said James. “However, we have a proud tradition of excellence at Miami, not just in football but in all sports, and we want to compete for ACC and national championships. I simply believe that now is the time to bring the Hurricane Family together and rally behind our young men.”
Now, Golden says that he is owed a separation fee provided by Paragraph 7 of his employment contract, which was altered by further written amendments.
The original Paragraph 7, highlighted on Golden’s copy of his employment contract that he attached to the Complaint, includes that the University of Miami must pay Golden a sum equal to $250,000 multiplied by the number of years left in the term of his deal. However, it also states that Miami has the right to reduce any continuing payment obligations to Golden by 50% if he earns a salary or wages or is otherwise compensated by any third party.
The third amendment to Golden’s employment agreement altered the termination payment to increase the amounts due to Golden in the case that the University of Miami terminated him without cause.
Year 5 corresponded to the period of time between February 1, 2015 and January 31, 2016. As such, the inflated amounts in the third amendment, as compared to the original contract, provides Golden with his $3 million ballpark figure on damages.
A breach for cause, such as being found to have materially breached the contract, would not allow Golden to collect the termination pay. There is no indication that Miami is looking to claim that Golden was terminated for cause.
The University of Miami has not yet responded to the lawsuit and thus any affirmative defenses are not yet known. However, it is likely that the University of Miami at least argues that Golden failed in his obligation to mitigate damages and make reasonable and diligent efforts to obtain other employment. Further, the school will likely use the salary Golden has been receiving to set off the amounts otherwise due to him under the contract and its amendments.