Former GCU head coach Dan Majerle suing school after firing
Former Grand Canyon University men’s basketball coach Dan Majerle is suing the school that fired him, according to court documents obtained by Arizona Sports.
Majerle is suing under three causes for action, including breach of contract.
The court documents detail Majerle’s firing and the wrongdoing he alleges, including not providing a severance provision.
GCU has already begun a campaign to disparage Majerle as part of its effort to avoid its severance obligation to Majerle by creating false and pretextual reasons for Majerle’s termination that are not “Cause” for termination under the Agreement and that were never asserted during his employment as potential grounds for termination.
Majerle spent seven seasons coaching the Antelopes, leading them to a record of 136-89. This past season, GCU was 13-17, the first time one of Majerle’s team finished under .500.
His contract was set to expire at the end of the 2022-23 season, three seasons after his firing.
Grand Canyon University said in a statement released Tuesday morning that it “was surprised to learn through members of the media” that Majerle decided to sue the school for firing him unexpectedly in March.
“We regret that Coach Majerle’s tenure had to end the way it did, but the university is prepared to defend itself and its decision if necessary should Coach Majerle decide to continue with litigation,” part of the school’s statement read. “GCU is unable to comment further until such time as it receives a copy of Coach Majerle’s complaint and has an opportunity to review his allegations.”
Majerle was let go on March 12, an event the documents paint a picture of.
Without any advanced warning, GCU notified Majerle of his termination via a telephone call from Jamie Boggs, the Interim Vice President of Athletics. During the call, Boggs did not give any reason for the termination and did not tell Majerle he was being terminated for Cause. When she told Majerle GCU was terminating him, Boggs said the university decided that it was moving on in another direction and that she was sorry.
The documents allege the head coach never heard negative feedback from the school that would lead him to believe his job was in jeopardy or that any of his conduct was grounds for termination.
“While employed at GCU, Majerle received only positive annual reviews,” the document states.
The documents reveal a text conversation between Majerle and GCU advisor and former Phoenix Suns owner Jerry Colangelo.
In the evening of March 12, 2020, shortly after the termination, Colangelo texted Majerle, “DAN- I am so sorry this ended this way. BRYAN [sic] [Mueller] was locked in his opinions. I know you are hurt and disappointed but this too will pass. I believe GCU will be fair with you re: contract. Call me if you want too [sic]. JC.” On March 16, 2020, Colangelo reiterated that “I maintain GCU will be fair.”
Unfortunately, Colangelo was mistaken. To date, GCU has refused to pay Majerle under the terms of the Employment Agreement.
The Suns Ring of Honor member Majerle repeatedly said his goal was to have GCU make the NCAA Tournament for the first time but was never able to achieve it.
Since it became eligible for postseason play in the last three seasons, GCU has finished third, third and tied for fifth in the regular season WAC standings. In the two previous seasons from 2015-17, Majerle’s teams went a combined 49-16.
Former Valparaiso and Vanderbilt head coach Bryce Drew was named’s Majerle’s replacement five days after the firing was announced by the school.
The complaint alleges “upon information and belief” that GCU “vetted and contacted other coaching candidates during the 2019-20 season.”