Former Kansas football coach David Beaty sued the university's athletic department in federal court on Tuesday, claiming Jayhawks officials launched an NCAA inquiry to avoid paying him a $3 million buyout he is owed for the final three years of his contract.
When Kansas athletic director Jeff Long fired Beaty on Nov. 24, he said Beaty was being fired without cause and the school owed him $3 million for the three years left on his contract.
But in private meetings following Beaty's dismissal, according to the lawsuit, Kansas officials "unabashedly raised the need to 'find something' on Coach Beaty such as finding a 'dead hooker in [Coach Beaty's] closet.'"
"Despite the clarity of the contractual language and the nature of Coach Beaty's termination without cause, Kansas Athletics officials began seeking avenues by which it could forgo the money owed to Coach Beaty or otherwise secure leverage by which it might negotiate a lesser amount," the lawsuit says.
According to the lawsuit, Kansas officials notified the NCAA about the alleged misconduct of one of Beaty's assistants. The lawsuit says the alleged conduct "occurred, if at all, a year or more earlier."
"Ever since the season concluded, Kansas Athletics has moved the goal posts on Coach Beaty," one of his lawyers, Michael Lyons, said in a statement. "Kansas Athletics can't walk back its decision to terminate Coach Beaty without cause after confirming it publicly, privately, and in writing.
"Coach Beaty and his family will always cherish their time at KU, but they do not understand why Kansas Athletics has reneged on its promises."
Jim Marchiony, a Kansas associate athletic director, said the school learned "of possible NCAA violations allegedly committed by Beaty'' after the season during exit interviews with football coaches and staff.
"KU contacted the NCAA and the Big 12 Conference and began an investigation into the matter. Beaty refused to cooperate with the KU review and, ultimately, the NCAA took the lead in the still-ongoing investigation,'' Marchiony said.
He also said the money owed to Beaty is being held in escrow "in a show of good faith'' pending the outcome of the NCAA probe.
"While disappointed in the court filing, the university is committed to seeking the truth and upholding our high standards of ethical conduct,'' he said.
NCAA officials interviewed Beaty on Feb. 27, according to his lawyers.
In a Nov. 29 memo that Long sent to Beaty, according to his attorneys, the athletic director wrote: "As discussed in my office on November 4, pursuant to Section 12 of your Employment Agreement, your Agreement with Kansas Athletics Inc. was terminated without cause effective November 24, 2018. All liquidated damages payments owed to you will be paid out consistent with Section 12 of your current amended Employment Agreement and Section 7 (D) of your current amended Professional Services Agreement."
"Kansas Athletics apparently wants to un-bake the proverbial cake it made," the lawsuit says. "It unequivocally terminated Coach Beaty without cause. Post hoc attempts to change that now are unbecoming of the institution that Coach Beaty still holds in great regard. Nevertheless, Coach Beaty will not stand idle and do nothing while Kansas Athletics fails to honor its agreements and commitments to him."
Beaty, who had never been a college head coach, was fired with three games left in his fourth season at Kansas. He finished the 2018 season and left with a 6-42 record.