Kansas State University

Prince, KSU lawyers make cases

MANHATTAN — Riley County District Court judge David Stutzman listened to nearly two hours of arguments from lawyers representing Kansas State and former football coach Ron Prince on Friday, but made no decision on the "secret" agreement lawsuit.

He said he would take their presentations for summary judgment under advisement, but offered no timetable for a decision.

K-State filed a lawsuit seeking to bar Prince from receiving deferred payments of $3.2 million from the agreement between Prince and former athletic director Bob Krause in 2008, months before Prince was fired.

Prince's lawyers hope to enforce the agreement and are seeking $3 million in punitive damages. Prince received $1.2 million in buyout money from his regular contract.

"I feel good about our arguments," said George Hanson, a lawyer representing K-State.

James Neale, a lawyer representing Prince, said his side was also confident.

"We've been very confident from the beginning that the facts are what the facts are," Neale said. "And the facts are that K-State... offered something in good faith, it was accepted in good faith and was legally binding. The sooner we get to a resolution the better, but I can't say that our confidence has changed since Day 1 of the case."

There have been attempts at a settlement, he said, and said there could be more negotiations.

On Friday, both parties spelled out their arguments.

K-State is focusing on three major areas:

* The absence of former school president Jon Wefald's signature on the memoran-dum of understanding.

* The timing of execution on the regular contract and the memorandum. K-State argued that the contract supersedes all previous arrangements, and since the memorandum was signed hours before the contract, it voids the memorandum.

* Prince provided no consideration for the memorandum.

"(Wefald) never signed the MOU, and that by itself is fatal," Hanson argued. "And what that means is that the moment that Coach Prince signed off on the MOU, preparing to fully execute it, it was a dead letter. It was a novelty. It could not exist."

Prince's lawyers argued that the memorandum didn't need Wefald's signature for two reasons. It was a contract between Prince and K-State's Intercollegiate Athletic Corporation, not the school. With former athletic director Bob Krause, who was president and CEO of the IAC, signing the contract, it did not need Wefald's approval. Also, the 2008 contract, unlike the 2005 version, did not include a provision stating that it was the entire agreement.

"This is a contract that does not involve the state," Neale argued. "It does not involve the school except to the extent there is a collateral deal."

Neale went on to argue that Prince was insistent upon having a fully guaranteed contract. He said Prince would never have signed the 2008 contract if not for the added buyout figures included in the memorandum, and that signing the document was proof of consideration.

He also tried to disprove K-State's signature timeline by pointing out the regular contract and memorandum were signed at roughly the same time. It made no difference which document was signed first in that short span.

"Documents are always signed in a sequence. The fact that the MOU was signed an hour and a few minutes or a couple hours before this, when one clearly refers to only going into effect when this does, is absolutely immaterial."