Great. Just great.
The biggest news, though, happened outside of the court room in this now 9-month-old fight between the program and a man who led the Tigers’ defensive unit for six seasons.
In filings made Tuesday morning, LSU admits to altering the 2012 contract of Chavis after the coach signed it – one of Chavis’ claims in the on-going lawsuit between the two parties.
“It’s exactly what coach has been saying all along, that the contract was altered after he signed it in 2012,” said Jill Craft, attorney for Chavis. “You can’t alter a contract and try to claim it’s valid and you certainly can’t sue over it. One of the things they did admit was altered was the buyout provision. In some sense, it’s vindication.”
Bob Barton, representing LSU, declined comment.
The buyout and the timing of Chavis’ departure from LSU are at the heart of the suit – a reason the school wants the coach’s phone records.
Here’s the thing: if you’re going to change a contract after it’s signed, exactly how do you sue on that contract? Who made that decision?
Joe Alleva, LSU’s bumbling athletic director, wasn’t ultimately at fault for the Charlie Foxtrot that was the botched Les Miles buyout; the fault for that lies with his bumbling boss, LSU president F. King Alexander, who let two weeks of a media runup to Miles’ departure happen before pulling the plug on the whole enterprise.
But Alleva is absolutely at fault for the John Chavis contract Charlie Foxtrot. He has sullied LSU’s honor, needlessly. And he now looks like the incompetent villain vis-a-vis Les Miles, whose defensive coordinator he essentially ran off through sharp dealing.
Chavis was unreasonable in his demand for a three-year guaranteed contract, mind you. As an assistant coach he is in no position to rate that kind of guarantee; Miles shouldn’t be encumbered by that guarantee in the case Chavis’ performance fell below what’s acceptable, and if Miles were to move on it wouldn’t be right to encumber his successor with either Chavis as the defensive coordinator (who the new coach might not want) or a budgetary crunch brought on by having to pay a buyout to Chavis.
And if his contractual demands were unreasonable, then LSU could have simply refused.
But Chavis signed a contract from LSU. And then LSU changed that contract to what it wanted, and then sued Chavis for breach of that contract when he took a job at Texas A&M.
That’s a level of idiocy and dishonor it’s really difficult to fathom. Even knowing the bumbling athletic director was the man who sold out the coaches and athletes of the Duke Lacrosse program over false allegations made by a violent criminal crack-whore and some bad publicity they engendered.
If this isn’t a good indication that LSU needs a thorough and complete housecleaning, it’s hard to see what would be.
In the filings this week, LSU explains why and how the original contract was altered after Chavis’ signature early in 2012, after the 2011 SEC championship season.
The school calls the changes “nominal” and that they “in no way altered or affected the contract’s terms and in no case altered Chavis’ obligation to pay LSU $400,000 if he left LSU before February 2015.
At least three lines of the contract were changed, according to a side-by-side comparison of the contracts that The Advocate obtained through the court.
Chavis received a copy of a new three-year contract on Jan. 1, 2012, signed it and returned it to LSU. The contract was not approved by the LSU Board of Supervisors until June of that year.
During the gap of time between those two events, LSU President John Lombardi was removed from his position. President William L. Jenkins was replaced him in an interim role.
Lombardi’s name was included in Chavis’ signed contract. Mark Ewing, LSU’s senior association athletic director for business, or someone at Ewing’s “discretion” removed Lombardi’s name from the contract and added Jenkins’ name, the documents say.
Two lines of the buyout clause in the original contract were also changed in early April. On April 3, the document says, someone from the school’s Finance and Administrative Services or the LSU Systems Office called Ewing about rewording the dates of the buyout section of the contract.
Ewing changed the language regarding the buyout dates from “between 24 months to 36 months” to “between the first day of the 36th month remaining to the last day of the 24th month remaining.”
He also changed language in the buyout dates from “between 11 months and 23 months” to “between the first day of the 23rd month remaining to the last day of the 12th month.”
That doesn’t sound like a lot, but Chavis’ lawyer says the alterations are material. The case continues.