A day after Tennessee made publicly available the memorandum of understanding between the school and head football coaching candidate Greg Schiano, one prominent Florida-based lawyer and insider says that the Vols could still end up having to pay Schiano multiple millions of dollars.
According to Darren Heitner in this story for Forbes, he argues that the language in the memorandum of understanding dictates the it in itself is a binding contract when signed.
“The document, which is roughly three full pages of text, indicates that it ‘constitutes a binding agreement between Coach and the University . . . and cancels and supersedes all prior existing oral and written agreements between the University and Coach,'” Heitner says. “Furthermore, the final sentence of the MOU reads that ‘until such time that the Employment Agreement is executed, this MOU shall constitute a binding employment contract between the parties.'”
However, reports after the MOU was released indicated that Tennessee as a program has a rule that contracts only become binding when the school’s Chancellor and Chief Financial Officer sign them. And neither of those two individuals signed the MOU with Schiano; only then athletic director John Currie did.
“That document was never signed by The University of Tennessee’s Chief Financial Officer, whose signature would have been required to make it legally binding on the University,” said Tennessee athletic department spokesman Tom Satkowiak.
Heitner says that still may not matter, and when the same question arose on Twitter, he tried to clarify.
“Tennessee’s main challenge is that, within the four corners of the MOU, it does not make it clear that the Chief Financial Officer’s signature on the document is a condition precedent for the MOU to be binding on the parties,” he states. “As Director of Athletics, one would presume that Currie has the ability to bind the University to such a contract, and a court of law may be stuck with determining whether University policy on the matter, which may require others’ signatures, is relevant to the enforceability of the document.”
If it is determined that the MOU was in fact binding, Tennessee would have to pay a significant portion of the guaranteed money amount to which it and Schiano agreed.
The MOU “states that the University of Tennessee may, in its sole discretion, terminate the MOU without cause and provide Schiano 75% of the base pay and supplemental pay as stated in the document. The MOU would have paid Schiano $27.7 million over the span of six years.”
That would equate to Tennessee paying Schiano roughly $21 million.
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