WVU football: Details of settlement with Stewart made public
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. -- The public may never know exactly what preceded Bill Stewart's resignation as West Virginia's football coach June 10, but the people learned Monday Stewart will receive $1.65 million for a quiet exit.
WVU released the "Confidential Settlement Agreement and Release of All Claims" signed June 10, the day Stewart resigned after three seasons in charge of the Mountaineers. A Freedom of Information Act request revealed Stewart will make the money as part of "general and liquidated damages." Both WVU and Stewart are bound to a non-disparagement clause that will prevent one from ever speaking negatively about the other.
The agreement, which supercedes all previous contracts and the terms contained within, includes the following: "The University and Stewart agree that neither will engage in any conduct or communications that disparage the other or any agents, employees, or representatives of the other."
That specifically protects Stewart, who resigned even though WVU said it could not prove he'd done anything wrong. Even if WVU could, the settlement agreement prevents WVU from ever making that public knowledge.
The settlement agreement says any "negotiations leading to it, all of the communications generated pursuant to it, and the implementation hereof shall, to the extent allowable by law, be kept strictly confidential and shall not be disclosed to any person, corporation or other entity not a party to this 2011 Agreement."
Should either WVU or Stewart step outside that boundary, the action would be considered a breach of contract.
WVU also protected itself by having Stewart agree to not pursue legal action against WVU. The settlement agreement says WVU and Stewart "agree to release and forever discharge of all known and unknown claims that the University and Stewart might have against one another now or at any time arising in the future." WVU extended the release of all claims to its employees and Board of Governors and those associated with both.
Exactly how much Stewart was to be paid was not clear June 10. Luck said at the press conference that night, "We will pay coach Stewart sums that we were obligated to pay him under his existing contract." Included in the contract he signed in November and had amended in December was the annual salary -- about half of which had been paid by his resignation date -- as well as a liquidated damage clause and a salary for a future alternative position of employment in the university.
At that time, WVU officials weren't sure if Stewart would receive the money for the alternative employment because he'd never actually get the job.
The $1.65 million in the settlement agreement is about what he was owed if he were to be paid all three sums according to the terms of his previous contract. Going by that document, Stewart was owed about half of his 2011 coaching salary of $950,000, the $750,000 liquidated damage sum and the $375,000 salary for the alternative employment.
The Charleston Daily Mail reported June 6 the university was looking at various parts of the football program, athletic department and affiliates to see who had fabricated stories about offensive coordinator and then-coach-in-waiting Dana Holgorsen and compromised his transition.
Stewart never addressed suggestions he was within the scope of the search before he stepped down and has been silent since. WVU never addressed the allegations the night Stewart resigned and has also kept quiet.
Luck said in the press conference WVU "was not able to substantiate any of the rumors and innuendos out there" and "I'd rather not discuss any of the allegations or rumors that have been out there for the last couple of weeks." In a statement released earlier that afternoon Luck wrote, "As a first comment, let me make this clear, the University has not substantiated any allegations of wrong doing on the part of Coach Stewart or his wife Karen Stewart."
The settlement agreement necessitated that, but also said WVU and Stewart were to agree on that release before it was published. Stewart likely sought to protect his wife.
She was named by a fan blog as an anonymous source for a column alleging Holgorsen had been involved in a handful of alcohol-related incidents. WVU later said that column contained "blatant inaccuracies," though the column and its content added to WVU's growing suspicion the misinformation was coming from the program or those close to it.
@Tagline:Contact sportswriter Mike Casazza at email@example.com or 304-319-1142. His blog is at blogs.dailymail.com/wvu.