University of Kansas

KU looks to dismiss lawsuit by fired football coach David Beaty over contract payout

Kansas Athletics, which oversees intercollegiate sports at the University of Kansas, has asked a federal judge to dismiss a lawsuit that former football coach David Beaty filed seeking a $3 million payout after he was fired in 2018.

In a lengthy memorandum filed in the U.S. District Court of Kansas on Friday, lawyers for Kansas Athletics raise legal points in seeking to have the case dismissed. The motion does not directly address specific allegations brought forth in Beaty’s lawsuit.

Beaty sued Kansas Athletics in March, alleging that he was denied a $3 million payout owed to him under his contract for being fired without cause. Beaty, hired in 2014 to revive the moribund Kansas Jayhawks, was informed that he would be let go last year with three games left in a campaign where Kansas went 3-9. Beaty’s Jayhawks won six of the 48 games he coached.

Beaty’s lawsuit alleged that he had been promised the $3 million payout but that Kansas Athletics reversed course and cited an NCAA infractions investigation into a subordinate of Beaty’s to withhold the payment and ultimately reclassify his termination as for cause. The lawsuit alleged that Kansas Athletics officials sought to “find something” on Beaty to justify firing him for cause, a claim that Kansas Athletics disputed.

Kansas Athletics on Monday declined to characterize the the status of the NCAA investigation, which it had earlier said came up as athletics department officials were conducting exit interviews at the end of last year’s football season. The nature of the investigation has not been specified.

Kansas Athletics’ motion to dismiss sheds no new light on these allegations. It does not concede to Beaty’s claims.

Instead, it argues that federal court is the wrong venue for a lawsuit like Beaty’s because he’s a Kansas resident and the university is based in Kansas. In general, lawsuits cannot proceed in federal court if plaintiffs and defendants exist in the same state and the cause of action stems from a state law.

Beaty’s lawsuit said he was a Texas resident, but Kansas Athletics said his residence was in Lawrence, that he voted in the 2016 general election in Kansas and that he formed a limited liability corporation that was based in Kansas.

Furthermore, Kansas Athletics argues that as an extension of the University of Kansas, it is immune from federal lawsuits under the Eleventh Amendment.

Lastly, Kansas Athletics argues that Beaty can’t bring a claim under the Kansas Wage Payment Act because the contract payout is considered liquidated damages not covered under the act.

Michael Lyons, a Dallas lawyer representing Beaty, said he was not concerned about Kansas Athletics’ motion.

“We believe this is just another delay tactic, it’s dilatory, we’re prepared to respond to it,” Lyons said. “We’re not concerned about it.”

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