AUSTIN — If the Kansas athletic department's investigation into coach Mark Mangino's treatment of football players results in the school firing Mangino for cause, that decision could spark a battle between the two parties for more than $6 million, according to Mangino's contract.
Mangino would be given a 21-day window after his firing to submit a written appeal of his termination to either KU chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little or athletic director Lew Perkins. The appeal would be reviewed by a three-person committee appointed by Gray-Little, comprised of faculty or professional staff employees, one selected by Gray-Little, one selected by Mangino and one agreed upon by both parties. Mangino would have the right to attend committee meetings and have legal counsel.
Two of the three committee members would have to rule in favor of the school to uphold the termination for cause. In that case, Mangino would be paid only what he is owed through the date of termination. But if the committee ruled in favor of Mangino, turning the termination for cause into a termination without cause, Mangino would be owed $6.6 million — the remainder of his contract ($2 million per year for three years plus a buyout in the range of $600,000). KU would also have the option of reinstating Mangino as coach.
According to the contract, termination for cause would take any of the following:
* Serious criminal conduct, fraud, misappropriation or embezzlement.
* Significant or repetitive violations of NCAA regulations.
* Discreditable conduct that is inconsistent with the professional standards expected of a head coach of a collegiate sports team and that is seriously prejudicial to the best interest of the university or athletics.
* Public or private comments that disparage KU, its personnel, programs, policies and/or departments, or that cause damage to KU's reputation.
It would appear that KU associate athletic director for risk management Lori Williams, who is conducting the investigation, would be focusing on the issue of discreditable conduct. Former players who spoke last week have described Mangino as disrespectful to student-athletes and volatile in nature.
The investigation began after allegations surfaced that senior linebacker Arist Wright was poked in the chest by Mangino during an Oct. 16 practice a day before KU's game at Colorado.
If Williams does not gather sufficient evidence to fire Mangino for cause, Perkins could fire Mangino without cause but would have to pay him $6.6 million.
KU basketball coach Bill Self's contract shows that it would be more difficult to fire Mangino for cause than Self.
First, while Mangino would have 21 days to plan his appeal, Self would only have five. And while Mangino would be able to hand-pick one of the members of the three-person board and have input on another, Self would have no input in the members of the board. Under Self's contract, the chancellor picks all three members.
The other major difference between the contracts is that, while the committee would have the final ruling on Mangino, the chancellor would make the final decision on Self, using the committee's review only as a factor.
Mangino's agent, Neil Cornrich, is also the agent for former Kansas State coach Ron Prince, who received a $1.2 million buyout when he was fired in November 2008 and is in a legal battle over an additional $3.2 million "secret" buyout that the school is challenging.