home sitesearch contact fan about
home
  Submit/Update Profile  

Search the Network:




UL officials consider new legal options in Baldwin case; read full text

UL officials consider new legal options in Baldwin case; read full text from statement on court decision
University mum on whether appeal is next
Marsha Sills
msills@theadvertiser.com

UL plans to challenge that former head football coach Jerry Baldwin was fired because he was black, but on Friday avoided committing to an appeal of a jury’s decision to award him $2 million.

On Thursday, a jury found that Baldwin’s claims of discrimination, breach of contract and emotional distress were valid after his termination at the end of the 2001 football season.

"The university is pleased that the jury recognized that Coach Baldwin was not terminated because of his race," according to the statement. "However, it is disappointed in the conclusion that race played some part in the decision. The law and the evidence at trial do not support this conclusion, and the university will vigorously challenge it, including an appeal, if necessary."

When reached for further clarification about a four paragraph statement made by the university Friday, Steve Oats, UL’s attorney did not return calls for comment.

At an Alumni Association reception in his honor Friday night, UL President Ray Authement told supporters that the "setback" should not deter the university in its mission.

"We’ve been proud of our efforts of diversity. … We had the first vice president that was black in the state and the South," Authement said, adding that the university also was the only one in the country at the time of Baldwin’s tenure that had two black head coaches.

"I ask that we not let this deter us in what we know is right. …We’re a university for all people," he said. "We did the right thing and we’ll continue to do that."

UL stated that Baldwin was fired because he produced the lowest winning percentage in the team’s 100-year history, winning only six games during his three seasons.

"As a result, attendance at home games plummeted and the university concluded that Coach Baldwin could not turn the program around," according to the statement. "Coach Baldwin was fired for these reasons and not because of the color of his skin."

The 10-2 decision from the jury wasn’t solely based on the discrimination claims, but jurors found evidence that university officials’ negligence carried weight to Baldwin’s emotional distress claims and that his contract was breached, according to The Associated Press.

Baldwin’s contract allowed for termination without just cause.

Upon Baldwin’s termination, the university bought him out of his contract in full.

His contract was set to expire in 2003. His annual salary was $120,000, plus $30,000 annually from the Ragin’ Cajun Club for promoting the team via television or radio programs.

Baldwin claimed that he did not receive the same support given to his successor, Rickey Bustle. Bustle has his own football show and has the support of a marketing director and fundraiser to help support the football program.

The university created an athletic development position in 2002, with the hiring of Gerald Hebert, who has worked to build community support.

UL System President Sally Clausen was unavailable for comment Friday on whether the jury’s decision would impact how the system advises its universities to handle the future firings of coaches and coaching staffs.

But if the $2 million decision is upheld, the money would come out of the state’s pocket, according to Jackie Tisdell, the system’s executive director of student development and communications.

Baldwin’s attorney, G. Karl Bernard did not return calls for comment.

Baldwin is pastor of New Living Word Ministries in Ruston. A phone message and e-mail message for Baldwin were not returned as of late Friday.

 

STATEMENT FROM UNIVERSITY OF LOUISIANA AT LAFAYETTE

FOR RELEASE ON OCTOBER 19, 2007

University of Louisiana at Lafayette is deeply disappointed in the jury’s verdict in the Jerry Baldwin lawsuit.  The university has a long history of not only supporting diversity, but of leadership in bringing diversity to its university and collegiate athletics.

 The reason Coach Baldwin was terminated was his lack of success on the football field. The team won 6 games and lost 27 in three football seasons under Coach Baldwin, which is the lowest winning percentage in over 100 years of Ragin’ Cajuns football history.   As a result, attendance at home games plummeted and the university concluded that Coach Baldwin could not turn the program around.  Coach Baldwin was fired for these reasons and not because of the color of his skin. 

As is customary with collegiate coaching contracts, the contract with Coach Baldwin allowed the university to remove him as Head Football Coach at any time. In light of Coach Baldwin’s lack of success on the football field, UL Lafayette chose to replace him for the benefit of the university and its football program. The university paid out Coach Baldwin’s contract in full.         

The university is pleased that the jury recognized that Coach Baldwin was not terminated because of his race. However, it is disappointed in the conclusion that race played some part in the decision.  The law and the evidence at trial do not support this conclusion, and the university will vigorously challenge it, including an appeal if necessary.

For more information, contact Larry Marino or Steve Oats at the Oats and Hudson Law Firm at 337-233-1100.