July 19, 2004

Contact: Todd Cohen, University Relations, (785) 864-8858.

Appeals court rules for KU, upholds dismissal of former coach's lawsuit

LAWRENCE -- The Kansas Court of Appeals has ruled in favor of the Kansas University Athletics Corporation, upholding a district court ruling dismissing a lawsuit by a former interim head football coach.

The court ruled that claims by Tom Hayes, in Hayes v. KUAC, No. 91,140, "are not supported by law" and that the contract of employment between Hayes and KUAC was valid and had "clear meaning."

Hayes was hired as an assistant coach on a written 24-month contract that stated Hayes would begin work on March 1, 2001 under then-Coach Terry Allen. Following Allen's termination by KUAC, Hayes served as interim coach in November and December 2001 and was then placed on administrative leave with pay through the remainder of his contract, which expired Feb. 28, 2003.

Hayes alleged in his suit that he should have been paid through June 30, 2003, the end of the fiscal year, citing an oral agreement with Terry Allen for a "two-year commitment." Hayes contended that his contract's wording, "24 months," should mean two fiscal years. The court ruled that Hayes' written contract was "plain and unambiguous" and that it terminated after 24 months.

"We are gratified by the court's decision that the KUAC's actions were entirely proper. The Athletics Corporation acted in good faith in this situation and met its promises under the contract," said Kevin Boatright, interim executive vice chancellor for university relations. "We were confident KUAC's actions were appropriate, and the court confirmed our determination that Mr. Hayes' claims were without merit."

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