I tell clients all the time that a contract is only as good as the people who signed it are. So you can imagine how good these contracts were:
Georgia Southern’s co-offensive coordinators last season, who were fired in the wake of a 5-7 record, have filed separate lawsuits against the school’s athletic association, head coach Tyson Summers and multiple administrators including athletics director Tom Kleinlein. The lawsuits allege breach of contract, fraud and tortious interference after the school failed to execute the 18-month contracts the coaches signed initially, then pressured them to sign shorter deals two days before their dismissal…
… After being offered the job by Summers and receiving formal offer sheets, both David Dean and Rance Gillespie signed 18-month contracts on Jan. 27, 2016, that established June 30, 2017, as the end of their term.
Both coaches claim that more than nine months later, they learned the school’s Board of Regents and the Georgia Southern University Athletic Foundation never signed the contracts. According to the lawsuits, Summers notified the coaching staff on Nov. 3, 2016, that new contracts were being prepared.
The second contract, which was given to the coaches following the 10th game of the season on Nov. 16, had changed the end of the agreement to Feb. 28, 2017.
The lawsuit alleges that Summers, Kleinlein, senior associate athletics director for business operations Jeff Blythe and director of football operations Cymone George “conspired to change the terms of the January Contract and specifically the employment end date” in order to save money, knowing they would be making coaching changes on the offensive staff.
The lawsuit states that Dean refused three requests from George to sign the new contract, believing he already had signed a valid contract. Dean claims he finally signed the new contract on Dec. 2 following a phone call with Blythe that left him with the impression that if he didn’t sign it, he could be fired any time and that his salary and benefits would immediately cease. Gillespie’s lawsuit makes the same claim, saying Blythe “informed Gillespie that it would be in Gillespie’s best interest to sign the November contract for his own protection.”
All this to save a few bucks, evidently, as the fix was already in.
These events were unfolding amidst a swirl of speculation that Summers might be removed as head coach following his first season, as fans were upset by offensive changes away from the school’s traditional triple-option attack and the failure to make a bowl game despite returning 17 starters from the previous year’s 9-4 team.
On Dec. 3, following the final game of the season, Kleinlein announced that Summers would remain as head coach. The next day, however, Dean and Gillespie were let go. On Dec. 9, Georgia Southern hired Georgia Tech quarterbacks coach Bryan Cook — who turned down the job a year earlier — to be the offensive coordinator.
Whatever GSU saved will likely get eaten up in attorney’s fees, but at least they know one thing there. As Brian VanGorder can tell you, nothing good ever comes of ditching the triple option in Statesboro.