Georgia Southern Football Adds Lawsuit to Residue of 2016 Season

So do you remember that time that we wrote that thing about Georgia Southern football and the train wreck that was the 2016 season?

Let me refresh your memory anyways.

I see the Hatcher years all over again. Poor defense. A lack of the running identity – whether triple option or otherwise – that Georgia Southern has always been known for and succeeded with. I see Georgia Southern struggling just when it – as a program – can least afford it.

Don’t worry guys, Walt will be back soon enough. Probably! Make sure you blast him on Twitter @AU_GS_Walt because you know he’ll always have something to say.

As messy as things were at that point (that article was written on November 11th) it turns out things actually were/are even worse than we thought because now Rance Gillespie and David Dean have both sued Georgia Southern, Tyson Summers, Tom Kleinlein and others. Over what, you ask? Oh nothing major, just ” breach of contract, fraud and tortious interference.”

Wait, what now?

I’ll turn to the original source again to kick things off.

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.

November 3rd was the Thursday before the Eagles suffered an embarrassing come-from-ahead loss  against Ole Miss to drop to 4-6 on the season after a 3-0 start. Let’s look at that again. They were told nine months after they signed their contracts that the other half of the deal, their athletics department bosses, still hadn’t signed the contracts.

So their bosses hadn’t signed their contracts, and then they get the new contracts two weeks later (a couple days after Walt wrote his piece), which had the contract end date modified from June 30th to February 28th, four months earlier than the original contract.

Dean and Blythe originally refused to sign the new contracts but eventually were told by senior associate athletics director for business operations Jeff Blythe that, in Dean’s words, ” if he didn’t sign it, he could be fired anytime and that his salary and benefits would immediately cease.”

Now, I don’t think that could have actually happened, or help up in court if it actually did because you’ll eventually be found out for yanking an employee’s pay and benefits immediately on termination, especially when it’s a “you wouldn’t sign a new contract” vendetta.

Of course, none of this mattered because Dean signed his contract on December 2nd. If that date sounds familiar it’s because two days later Dean and GIllespie were fired, and on December 9th Bryan Cook was hired as the new offensive coordinator.

If this sounds like something out of a WWE storyline, I can’t blame you. There’s just about no way that this is going to end well for Georgia Southern.

The absolute best case scenario for this group is “we never signed the original employment contracts we gave to these employees, and then 9 months later we still didn’t sign them and wrote up new ones with different terms without saying a word to the employees in question.”

Again, to recap:

  • January 27, 2016 – David Dean and Rand Gillespie hired as co-offensive coordinators
  • Fall 2016 – Georgia Southern’s 2016 season, in large part due to offensive woes, starts 3-0 and ends up 5-7
  • November 3, 2016 – Dean and Gillespie find out that the Board of Regents and athletics foundation had not signed their contracts to make them valid. They also found out that instead of signing them, new contracts were drawn up that would terminate February 28th instead of June 30th
  • December 2nd, 2016 – Dean signs his contract under threat of immediate termination
  • December 4th, 2016 – Dean and Gillespie are let go from their positions
  • December 9th, 2016 – Bryan Cook is hired as the new offensive coordinator

We’ll have to find out first if the thing that went unsigned and then got worked was really and truly a “contract” (versus a “letter of intent” or anything else that falls in “something other than a full and legal contract that is often given on a short-term basis until something longer can be created”).

We also may hear nothing again until this is settled out of court, if anything actually comes of it. We’ll keep an eye on this, and I’ve no doubt Walt will have more to say in the coming weeks, but things continue to go “not well” for Georgia Southern football.

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