Coach takes UConn to court over contract dispute

A basketball coach at UConn took the university to court after it terminated the remainder of his contract. The university cited “serious misconduct” or “serious non-compliance of … NCAA rules and regulations” to support the early termination. The coach disagreed.

What are the arguments?

The argument is rooted in the fact that there are two potential contracts that would govern how the termination should proceed.

The coach argued that his agreement with the university fell under the protections available within the collective bargaining agreement present between the American Association of University Professors and UConn. This agreement provides a higher level of protection for termination of the contract compared to the individual employment agreement the university has cited as the controlling document.

How did the dispute proceed?

The dispute went to arbitration, not litigation. Instead of going into a courtroom, the dispute was sent to an alternate form of dispute resolution. Arbitration essentially involves a neutral, third-party issuing a binding holding after hearing arguments from both sides.

In this case, the arbitrator found the collective bargaining agreement was the correct document. As a result, the university must meet a higher standard to move forward with the termination of the coach’s position before the end of the terms stated within the contract.

What does this mean?

Essentially, this means the coach can bring witnesses to defend his case. The university will need to establish it met the requirements to terminate the contract under the collective bargaining agreement.

The case provides an example of the complicated nature of contract disputes. Anyone facing a contract dispute is wise to seek legal counsel experienced in this niche area of law.