Hours after hiring an interim president, West Virginia University moved closer on Tuesday to ending the saga over its former head football coach, Rich Rodriguez, who quit in December to become the head coach at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor.
Lawyers brokered a tentative settlement last night in which Mr. Rodriguez will pay the university $4-million, the full amount specified in a buyout clause of his contract, according to a written statement issued by Michigan.
Mr. Rodriguez’s departure preceded West Virginia’s upset victory in the Fiesta Bowl, and came only a year after he signed a contract extension. The contract (available at USA Today’s Web site) contained an amendment requiring Mr. Rodriguez to pay the university $4-million if he departed before this August.
Lawyers for Mr. Rodriguez challenged the clause in court, arguing that West Virginia had previously violated the contract by failing to honor certain promises. But the settlement was reached after a recent flurry of legal maneuvering, with Michigan agreeing to foot $2.5-million of the bill.
“Although he continues to disagree with the validity of the terms,” said William C. Martin, Michigan’s athletics director, in the statement, “Rich and the rest of us at Michigan felt that it would be best to get this distracting issue behind us.” —Paul Fain