Get Connected
  • facebook
  • twitter
Print

WVU turmoil gave Stewart little choice

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. -- Bill Stewart's alleged past indiscretions with NCAA rules helped conspire to cost him his future as West Virginia University's football coach.

The Charleston Daily Mail obtained - through the Freedom of Information Act - the seven-page modified employment agreement Stewart and WVU Athletic Director Oliver Luck signed on Nov. 17.

That was four days after the Mountaineers defeated Cincinnati to begin a four-game winning streak at the end of the regular season, but also the day WVU agreed to advance the ongoing NCAA infractions case through the summary disposition process.

The Nov. 17 agreement was amended in a three-paragraph letter on Dec. 7, three days after WVU's regular season ended. It is under the guidelines spelled out there that Stewart will work the 2011 season as WVU's football coach.

The new agreement covers the two ways proposed to usher Stewart from his position, but also suggests Stewart was put in a position to make a choice.

Stewart could agree to the terms - either resign at the end of the 2010 season, or be brought back for the 2011 season, when he would work with a successor and then resign at the end of that season - or face the possibility he could be terminated with cause because of the ongoing NCAA case.

For Stewart, being fired with cause meant an exit without compensation. In accepting the proposed deal, he was guaranteed $1.125 million if he were to be fired at the end of the 2010 season or $2.075 million if he were brought back for the 2011 season.

Ten points explain the new agreement and the first implies WVU could have pursued termination with cause.

It states Stewart and WVU "agree to proceed with a summary disposition report process and agree to the summary disposition findings as proposed by the NCAA enforcement division."

The summary disposition process is used when the accused school, the NCAA enforcement staff and all others involved agree on the facts of the case.

WVU later agreed to pay $30,000 to Stewart to cover legal fees and expenses for his participation in the NCAA case.

Stewart has been represented in the NCAA case and his new contract by Charleston attorney David K. Hendrickson of Eckert, Seamans, Cherin & Mellot.

Hendrickson refrained from commenting on Stewart's agreement to the Daily Mail. He can't comment on the NCAA case, or how it is connected to Stewart's status, because it is not finalized.

Luck also declined to comment on both matters.

Last August, the NCAA accused WVU's football program of five major violations for allowing excessive or unauthorized people to perform coaching duties and one secondary violation for practicing more than is allowed during one week in the 2006 season. Stewart also was individually accused of a failure to promote an atmosphere of compliance.

WVU opened preseason practice two days later. On the fourth day of practice, WVU self-reported a secondary violation after it was reported players wore pads the first two days, when pads are not allowed.

All together, it could have allowed WVU to unload Stewart and owe him neither his buyout nor the $3 million in guaranteed compensation over the final three years of his contract.

Stewart's previous contract, formally signed Sept. 10, 2008, states WVU "specifically reserves the right to terminate this Agreement without further obligation at any time for cause."

As part of the clause, which is in all of WVU's coaching contracts and is common across the country, WVU includes in its definition of cause "serious or major violation, whether intentional or negligent, or a pattern of violations, of the written rules, regulations, policies, procedures or standards of the NCAA, the University or the Big East Conference."

The ninth of the 10 points in the modified agreement, however, states Stewart's signature forces WVU to "waive any right to terminate Stewart for any alleged act or occurrence related in any way to the allegations in the NCAA case."

The document says the Nov. 17 agreement replaces the Sept. 10, 2008 pact - although the modified employment agreement is not considered the finalized contract for Stewart.

Had WVU simply fired Stewart following the 2010 season without brandishing the NCAA case as a possible cause or modifying the original contract, it would have owed Stewart a prorated sum of $825,000 per year remaining on his contract - or roughly $2.475 million. He was under contract through the 2013 season.

The initial term sheet to which he agreed - after coaching the Mountaineers to a Fiesta Bowl victory as interim head coach - was for a five-year contract, which would have taken him through 2012, and contained a flat-fee buyout of $1 million.

Those numbers were changed between Stewart's promotion on Jan. 3, 2008, and signing his contract more than nine months later.

The modified agreement details the potential outcomes Luck created for Stewart following back-to-back losses to Syracuse and Connecticut in October 2010.

One was for Stewart to announce his resignation at the end of the 2010 season. He would receive a $750,000 buyout and accept an "alternate position of employment" for a 30-month period and a total salary of $375,000, plus use of a car and four "premium" tickets for each home football and men's basketball game and each postseason game in which those teams would play.

The second possibility was the one Stewart has now. He was welcomed back to coach the 2011 season with Dana Holgorsen as the offensive coordinator and Stewart's successor beginning with the 2012 season.

Stewart was told of that option Dec. 7, the deadline set in the November agreement, in a letter from William H. Hutchens, WVU's vice president for legal affairs. The letter also said Luck and Stewart were to meet two days later with Holgorsen, who was anonymously identified as "the potential coach in waiting/offensive coordinator."

The letter allowed for consequences to come from the meeting. WVU withheld the right to decide within 72 hours if it would "revoke the offer for Stewart to remain as head football coach."

Luck announced Dec. 16 Stewart would work the final year, and then move to the alternate position.

The document states Stewart "shall be entitled" to all base, supplemental and incentive compensation for the 2011 season, as defined in his September 2008 contract. If Stewart is still the WVU head coach on Sept. 1, his coaching salary for 2011 will be $950,000, plus incentives.

The agreement says "if the University does not offer Stewart the opportunity to coach the football team after the 2011 regular season or the post-season bowl game, or if he is terminated for any reason during the 2011 season," Stewart is entitled to the $750,000 buyout, plus the salary for the alternate position.

The agreement also says the job "is terminable at will by Stewart" at any point and he's eligible for whatever remains of the $375,000.

There is no language in the modified November agreement that would prevent Stewart from taking a job at another school without forfeiting the buyout or the $375,000 for WVU "alternative employment."

Those type of "non-compete" clauses are common in major college coaching deals, and Stewart had one in his September 2008 contract, prohibiting his move to any other Big East school for an 18-month period "after termination" by WVU.

The final agreement could be revised to include one of those clauses.

Contact sportswriter Mike Casazza at mikec@dailymail.com or 304-319-1142. His blog is at blogs.dailymail.com/wvu.

 

 


Print

User Comments