PITTSBURGH, Sept. 19, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- A lawsuit filed today alleges University of Pittsburgh officials breached their contract with former football coach Michael Haywood and violated federal law when they terminated him in January, The Buzbee Law Firm announced.
According to the complaint filed in Pittsburgh federal court, Pitt rushed to judgment and fired the coach hours after a disputed domestic incident in South Bend, Ind. The lawsuit asserts that Pitt officials refused Haywood's attempts to explain and refute the allegations.
The lawsuit also accuses Pitt of backing out of an agreement to buy out Haywood's coaching contract with Miami University of Ohio for $300,000.
Haywood was arrested at the home he owns in South Bend on Dec. 31, 2010 after an attempt to visit his 21-month-old son in compliance with a child custody agreement. The lawsuit asserts Haywood was concerned upon arriving at the home by "erratic, irrational behavior and remarks" of the child's mother which he believed were influenced by alcohol. After searching the home, Haywood retrieved his son from a child safety seat in a vehicle he owns, the lawsuit alleges. According to the lawsuit and sworn court documents, Haywood did not assault the child's mother.
Attorneys Tony Buzbee and Christopher K. Johns, of The Buzbee Law Firm in Houston, and Rolf Louis Patberg, of Patberg, Carmody & Ging, P.C. in Pittsburgh, represent Haywood.
Buzbee said, "We allege Pitt officials ignored their contractual obligations and terminated Mr. Haywood in violation of his Constitutional rights before he could refute the abuse allegations. No one in the Pitt administration or athletics department bothered to adequately investigate the situation or speak with Mr. Haywood directly. Had they done so, they would have quickly determined that Mr. Haywood's employment should not have been terminated."
Haywood's five-year contract with Pitt would have paid him up to $7.5 million, plus other incentives. The lawsuit seeks at least $3.75 million in damages related to a contract clause under which Haywood is entitled to $750,000 for each remaining year of the contract if he was fired "without just cause," as well as exemplary damages, attorneys' fees, and court costs.
Haywood said, "The allegations, as initially reported, were completely false. In the midst of an argument with my son's mother, I acted to defensively protect my son and did nothing violent. This lawsuit is intended to set the record straight and help restore my career and reputation."
Born in Houston, Haywood graduated from St. Thomas High School in Houston. A four-year-letterman at the University of Notre Dame, where he was a wide receiver and defensive back under Gerry Faust and Lou Holtz, Haywood graduated in 1986 (B.A., College of Arts and Letters). He then worked on the staffs of some of college football's most successful coaches – including Mack Brown, Nick Saban, and Charlie Weis. In 2008, Haywood was named head coach of the Miami University RedHawks. After a 1-11 record in his first season, Haywood orchestrated one of the greatest turnarounds in college football history as Miami University won the Mid-American Conference and finished the 2010 season with a 10-4 record. For his work at Miami University, Haywood was named 2010 MAC Coach of the Year.
The case is "Michael A. Haywood v. The University of Pittsburgh," C.A. No. 11-1200 in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania, Pittsburgh Division.
Media Contact: Erin Powers, Powers MediaWorks LLC, for The Buzbee Law Firm, 281.703.6000, [email protected].
SOURCE The Buzbee Law Firm