Doug Williams, who led Grambling State to a Southwestern Athletic Conference championship last season, has filed a lawsuit against the university as part of a contract dispute.
Williams, who signed a deal last spring to coach the Tigers, sued his alma mater on the grounds that Grambling State had attempted to change his contract without his approval.
“It is a sad day in Louisiana when a coach, who dearly loves Grambling, has to hire an attorney who is one of the university’s biggest supporters to sue it,” said Williams’ attorney Cleo Fields in a statement. “However, right is right and wrong is wrong.”
The lawsuit, which names Grambling State President Frank Pogue, the school, its board and both the state and state Department of Education as defendants, that Williams signed a contract with Pogue and former Athletic Director J.Lin Dawson and took the job pending board approval.
It is believed that Pogue assured Williams there would be no problem in having the contract approved by the board, and that it would be a mere formality.
Williams had no reason to question the fact that he had a binding contract in light of the assertion of Pouge, court documents said.
Fields said Williams was not told there was a problem with his contract being approved until many months after it was signed. By this time Williams quit his previous job, sold his home, and moved his family to Louisiana.
However, late last summer, Pogue told Williams that there might be a problem with the contract after all and suggested a re-negotiation. Williams informed Pogue he wouldn’t agree to a re-negotiation.
In January, Williams received notification that he was an “at-will employee,” which was the first time he learned that Pogue had not been truthful about his contract.
It is also alleged that Grambling refused to pay Williams and his assistants performance bonuses they earned for a successful 2011 season, where the team won the SWAC championship after a 1-4 start. It is estimated that Williams is owed more than $40,000 in bonuses.
The university is also under fire for failing to present the contact for approval by the board in March as once believed. Rather, the contract vote was pulled from an April 29 board meeting agenda.
Fields said a series of new contracts have been presented to Williams in which his pay is lower, bonuses dropped and even the ability of the school to fire him without probable cause is on the table in a take it or leave it ultimatum.
The lengthy seven-page claim surmises that Grambling and the state “knowingly lured Williams, through false and fraudulent promises and misrepresentations, into executing a contract that had no intention of ever being approved,” all with the intention of later attempting what was called a “bait and switch” techniques to force a re-negotiation.
In a statement, UL System President Randy Moffett said the university and the system had been negotiating in good faith with Williams for almost a year.
“We have offered him one of the highest salary and incentive compensation packages in Grambling’s conference,” Moffett said. “We believe that we did everything possible to come to a mutually beneficial arrangement without compromising the University’s academic core.”
Grambling State officials could not be reached for comment.
“When the facts come out, the people will be astonished to learn of the promises made and later broken to coach Doug Williams,” Fields continued.