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Legally Speaking: Dan Majerle has a case against GCU

GCU men’s basketball head coach Dan Majerle does an interview with The Doug & Wolf Show on 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station on Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018. (Matt Layman/Arizona Sports)

Dan Majerle has decided to enter a new arena — the legal arena. Majerle, former head basketball coach for Grand Canyon University, filed a complaint against his former employer Monday for breach of contract and bad faith regarding his abrupt termination in March of this year.

Does Thunder Dan have a case? According to the well-written complaint, absolutely. Granted, every complaint filed, without anything more, should convince you the plaintiff has a case. This one does just that.

As of right now, the problem appears to be a simple one — that GCU did not follow the employment agreement it had with Majerle when it fired him.

According to the complaint, “Despite Majerle’s total allegiance to GCU, without any cause or justification and without the notice required by his employment agreement, GCU abruptly terminated Majerle. Without providing Majerle with any written notice of grounds for dismissal, GCU advised that it would not honor the employment agreement’s severance provision.”

The employment agreement details the responsibilities both parties would have in the event Majerle was fired for cause or just simply fired.

If terminated without cause, Majerle would receive significant benefits, including his base salary (with any contracted increases) through May 31, 2023, any bonuses and payment of insurance premiums. That obviously adds up to a significant amount that no college would want to pay a coach who is no longer coaching.

On the other hand, many of these benefits, if not all of them, would go away if Majerle was fired for cause. In other words, if he was negligent, reckless, neglected his duties, acted with willful insubordination or anything like that, then GCU could fire him with cause under the agreement and not be required to pay so much money.

The million dollar question (or perhaps the multi-million dollar question) is this: Why did GCU fire Majerle?

According to the complaint, Majerle was informed he was terminated because GCU wanted to go in a different direction. That is not sufficient “cause” under the agreement to refuse to pay Thunder Dan what he is owed.

In addition, the complaint points out “after the termination, GCU continued to utilize Majerle’s name and likeness for the university’s advertisements, such as prominently displaying billboards featuring Majerle and maintaining Majerle on GCU’s website as the men’s basketball coach for weeks following the termination.”

This definitely hurts any case GCU tries to make that Majerle did something bad.

#LegallySpeaking, unless GCU had a reason other than “going a different direction,” that no one has heard of yet, then Majerle has a strong case. Unfortunately, I think this dispute will get ugly.


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