WVU's suit against Rich Rodriguez moves to federal court

Updated: January 16, 2008, 5:03 PM ET
Associated Press

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- West Virginia University's lawsuit against Rich Rodriguez was transferred to federal court on Wednesday because the former Mountaineers coach had moved to Michigan when it was filed.

"We're perfectly comfortable and happy to litigate this case in any court," said Thomas Flaherty, a Charleston attorney representing WVU. "This is not unanticipated."

The move gives Rodriguez, hired by Michigan on Dec. 16, until next Wednesday to file a response. The suit was filed in a local court on Dec. 27 to collect on a $4 million buyout clause in his contract.

Meanwhile, the university is continuing its investigation into missing records associated with the program under Rodriguez.

"What's got to be determined is what exactly is missing," WVU spokesman Mike Fragale told The Associated Press on Wednesday. "There's a lot of things I just don't know."

Citing anonymous sources, The Charleston Gazette reported Tuesday that files kept in Rodriguez's private office disappeared between Dec. 16 and Jan. 3, along with strength and conditioning records from the weight room.

The newspaper report claimed the missing documents included players' personal contact information, scholarship payments and class attendance records, as well as strength and conditioning records and photographs that tracked players' physical progress.

The files were discovered missing from the Puskar Center in Morgantown, where Rodriguez had a private office, after WVU coaches returned from the Jan. 2 Fiesta Bowl.

University spokeswoman Amy Neil said the WVU Office of Admissions and Records maintains grade and attendance records in a separate location, so no student-athlete's academic career is at risk.

"We're not sure what records are missing, but all student records, including those of the football team, are kept within the Office of Admissions and Records," she said. "Those records are secure."

Neil said she believes it would not be unusual for the head coach to have copies of his own records to ensure players are maintaining their required grade-point averages or meeting scholarship requirements.

Mike Brown, Rodriguez's agent, has said Moutaineers head coach Bill Stewart, as a former assistant, should have copies of each players' strength and conditioning tests because multiple copies were made. He also said the university should have any records involving the finances of the summer camps it ran.

Brown, however, declined to say whether Rodriguez removed or destroyed any documents, saying that question would be addressed in court documents.

Flaherty said it would be premature to comment on whether the missing documents had any possible bearing on WVU's lawsuit against Rodriguez.

Rodriguez's attorney, Sean McGinley, didn't immediately return a telephone message.<

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Associated Press writer Vicki Smith contributed to this story.


Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press

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