June 29, 2011

Let me state something right away. This is small potatoes. Mike Haywood isn’t pursuing legal action for his full contract. Insane claims or anything that would get him laughed out of court — like say being reinstated as Pitt head coach or getting paid $7.5 million over 5-years. He is “only” seeking the $300,000 severance from his deal with Pitt Pitt was to pay on his behalf to Miami (OH) for his contract buyout. [Correction made, as Pitt Script clarifies that aspect.]

It will get a lot more attention because, a) it is late-June and still more than a month before camps even open; b) it recalls the chaos and mess of the arrest and subsequent firing; and c) it was made public because Haywood’s people publicized it.

And just when I thought my day couldn’t get any worse, I returned home and decided to check my e-mail only to find a press release sent out by attorneys and a public relation’s person on behalf of Michael Haywood – yeah, THAT Michael Haywood — stating that he has asked the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission and other state and federal agencies to look into the university’s firing of him.

Press releases to the media helps to explain why it is all over wires and media outlets.

This should not be a surprise. Mike Haywood’s only comments after getting released from St. Joseph County police custody on January 1, 2011:

“It isn’t fair,” Haywood told the Tribune-Review in a telephone interview. “The truth will eventually come out.”

The “truth” was that his felony domestic battery charge was never expected by any realistic person to be what he would be convicted or would plead to in the end — especially when she indicated a short time after the incident that she would not exactly be helpful at any trial. She submitted court papers saying she did not consider Haywood a danger to herself or their son, and claiming that the police report contained errors as to what was said.

At his hearing, Haywood — a first time offender — was admitted to a diversionary program that will clear his record.

At a pretrial hearing in February, Haywood did admit to grabbing the woman during the altercation, which was over custody of their young son, and that she got hurt when she fell down trying to get away from him.

But he was given the option of having the charges dropped in a year if he lived up to the terms of a pre-trial diversion agreement with the court. The terms included a psychological evaluation, possible anger management counseling and 60 hours of community service by February, 2012.

These facts, effectively dissolve the press released statement from Haywood’s attorney:

“In their rush to judgment, Pitt officials did not bother to contact the alleged victim or even the coach himself. I believe the university violated its contract with the coach, the university’s employment procedures, and the Due Process Clause of the U.S. Constitution. Had Pitt conducted even a cursory investigation, it would have determined that the alleged incident simply did not occur as reported, and the termination would not have occurred. We are exploring other motives for Pitt’s firing of Coach Haywood.”

[Emphasis added.]

Haywood’s record may eventually be cleared with all charges dropped, but in admitting to grabbing the victim, he essentially admitted to an assault on a woman. No battery. No felony action. Maybe not even criminal assault, but by any legal definition: assault. And you can bet, that would still have been enough for his termination.

The argument itself is essentially silly. Pitt fired Haywood right afterwards. There was no investigation because the firing was based on contract language — which is why Haywood is essentially arguing for only severance pay.

Now Haywood and his attorney are not seeking redress in the courts yet. They have to jump through administrative and procedural hoops. That is why they are requesting the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission among others look at the matter first. If they filed a court case right away it would be tossed for failing to exhaust administrative and agency remedies.

The fact that this was then sent out as a press release to media outlets is something else. That was done to draw attention to the case. Why? To try and force Pitt to negotiate a settlement.

Pitt may be on solid legal ground with everything they did (and I suspect they are). But does the University want to spend the money on dealing with this, and any subsequent court case.

On top of that, do they want the attention? After all, once any agency investigations conclude and would likely dismiss all claims. Then Haywood’s attorneys could pursue the court case — and Pitt would face a new round of attention on something they probably would like everyone to forget occurred.

Is that enough to push Pitt to negotiate a settlement? I don’t know. I suspect there will be some talks, but unless Haywood is willing to settle for $100K or less, expect this to pop up once more in the news cycle in a few months with the conclusions of the agency investigations.

The Human Relations Commission generally reviews cases of discrimination. I cannot see anything even remotely discriminatory in Pitt’s actions. Maybe Haywood is claiming Pederson sexually harrassed him? 😉
In any case, Haywood is looking to cash in becauseit seems as if his coaching career is probably over and he needs the bucks.

Comment by crackbaldo 06.29.11 @ 1:07 pm

I agree, crackbaldo, Haywood is toast when it comes to becoming a headcoach in the college ranks and will have problems landing a positional coaching position in the NCAA and NFL ranks.

His best bet would have been to move on under the radar.

I think this course of action is going to hurt him, would you take the chance on hiring this guy?

This suit is going to make Haywood radioactive, he will never be offered a headcoaching position again period.

He might land in the NFL as a position coach but there are two types of individuals in the workforce, problem solvers and problem makers, this course of action could place him in the category of problem maker and professions tend to shy away from hiring problems.

I wish him the best of luck but he should have never put himself in this postion, he has no one to blame but himself.

Comment by BBW 06.29.11 @ 1:58 pm

He admitted to assaulting a woman, this is going nowhere; actually this will hinder him in future job endeavors. He is probably broke!

Comment by WLAT and the Big Beat! 06.29.11 @ 2:35 pm

Great all-perspectives reporting, thanks Chas.

Please read above:
“He is “only” seeking the $300,000 severance from his deal with Pitt that Pitt was to pay on his behalf to Miami (OH) for his contract buyout.”

If you read the links, Miami has been soliciting Haywood directly for the buyout.

Comment by steve 06.29.11 @ 2:41 pm

If Pitt promised him that they would pay the buyout before he left Miami, then Pitt should just pay it and be done with it. How often do we have to relive this fiasco?

Comment by Chuck Morris 06.29.11 @ 4:02 pm

If he promised Pitt that he would void the agreement if he violated the conduct/ethics clause then he should void it and be done with it….

Comment by BCPITT 06.29.11 @ 4:05 pm

I think Nordy is a lawyer by trade, I’m sure he knew what Pitt could or couldn’t do regarding terminating the employment contract.

Haywood might have made a mistake that could have ruined his life forever!

He wasn’t making a ton of money at Miami he could be close to being broke if he has to shell out the $300K.

I agree that this action could really burn him for future employment opportunities!

Comment by Stuart Margolin 06.29.11 @ 4:57 pm

I smell bullshit here. Miami won’t continue to pursue the 300K if Pitt tells Haywood to piss off. They’re putting pressure on him to collect the money from Pitt. I think they’re bluffing and if Pitt tells him to piss off again they’ll forget about the 300K.

Comment by The Hagen 06.29.11 @ 5:35 pm

Haywoods lawyer is a big time ambulance chaser from Houston!

Comment by Nightmare between 5th & Forbes 06.29.11 @ 5:59 pm

Maybe Miami will forgive the $300k if we agree to a home and home with them.

Comment by upittman 06.29.11 @ 9:36 pm

Comment by wbb 06.29.11 @ 9:54 pm

Great writing and research, Chas. But it won’t be “months” for the PHRC to investigate and then come to a conclusion. It is more like “years”. This agency is famous for moving at glacial speed. With one poor placement of his hand this guy went from a millionaire head coach to a broke and uenmployable bum….

Comment by Bobby 06.29.11 @ 10:42 pm

An unfortunate situation continues…
If Miami really is breathing down Haywood’s neck then Pitt should just pay him and cut themselves from the man completely. I kind of feel bad for him at this point, even if I did dislike the hiring when it happened. He had a weak mental moment and is now trashed and broke.

On a related note, was his baby’s mom the one who called the police? If so, she had a weak moment too, especially in light of her retracting the abuse charge. She cheated her kid of out of a lot of money.

Comment by tacocat 06.29.11 @ 11:06 pm

tacocat, people do strange things in the heat of battle and out of revenge. My friend’s son and former daughter-in-law were going thru a divorce. He had a very high–paying Wall Street job. His now ex stood to be compensated very well except that she got him fired from his job before the divorce proceedings took place. She now lives in a small apartment and struggles financially.

Comment by BigGuy 06.30.11 @ 9:27 am

some interesting stuff at Greentree last night .. especially aN Edinboro player scoring a double-double against the likes of an Nba player

link to

Comment by wbb 06.30.11 @ 10:04 pm

wbb, thanks for the link. I’m sure it’s against ncaa rules, but if they televised these games somebody could make some money. Great news on Moore and Johnson and previously on Taylor. Nice stuff on Birch in today’s PG. Good attitude.

Comment by gc 07.01.11 @ 7:04 am

Oh yeah, and can’t wait to see how Taylor does with Blair. Gotta help him get better.

Comment by gc 07.01.11 @ 7:07 am

gc, another big article on Blair in PG this morning, and a quote from Birch stating that he realizes that he must spend a lot of time in the weight room if he wants to play in the NBA.

BTW, that Donaldson is an ex-Edinbore player who has been playing pro in Europe … and former city league rival of Blair’s

Comment by wbb 07.01.11 @ 7:26 am

I do love summer, however, I divide it into four quarters until my favorite holiday, the first college football weekend in September.

Well folks, May and June are done!! Won’t be long.

Still looking forward to the 4th weekend and two weeks at the shore, but, it’s inching closer!!!

Comment by Dan 07.01.11 @ 7:50 am

Bleacher Report by Ewin Weathersby predicts where the top 50 uncommitted football recruits are headed. He has Rushel Shell rb headed to Pitt. Quick call Todd Graham and company and get busy with recruiting this kid! Do they even know this kid will pick Pitt if they work hard enough to get him???

Comment by RandyRandyTime 07.01.11 @ 7:53 am

Greentree summer league hoops is the best kept secret and by fair the best value (free) in Pittsburgh sports. I have been to all four nights so far and have enjoyed every minute.

On Wednesday, the whole energy level went up a couple of notches when Blair showed up for the last game. That kid from Edinboro outplayed Blair. Someday he’ll be telling his grand kids about it. It was really fun to watch.

I’m starting to get over my “Birch Panic”, he looked much better on Wednesday and I am starting to believe he can play a role in a Big East championship season (next season). He needs to get into the Pitt strength and conditioning program IMMEDIATELY.

John Johnson is the real deal. He is ultra competitive. He put the glove on Gibbs and really out played him. Again, I don’t know how that will transfer to the season and how he’ll fit in Pitt’s offense. But the kid can play. Would love to see him as the first guard off the bench to inject some instant offense and energy.

Watching TJ McConnell, who looks to be much bigger and stronger than last season, I can’t help but think about what he’d look like in a Pitt uniform. He seems to be exactly what they need. A strong, pass first, guard who can create offense for others.

Comment by boubacar aw 07.01.11 @ 8:22 am

Boubacar, when I saw McConnell is high school, I was more taken by his defense than his scoring (30+ ppg). The problem, I believe, was that he verbally committed to Duquesne early in his sophomore year (possibly due to his aunt being girl’s BB coach) … thus, he was hands off since Dixon is supposedly good friend with the Duquesne coach.

Just speculation on my part

Comment by wbb 07.01.11 @ 9:13 am

was interesting to read the puff piece about Blair playing in summer league in the PG this AM. now that I know that Donaldson is a North Side kid and has played against Blair before, it’s more understandable how comfortable he was eating Blair up for two halves. just goes to show you how many good BB players there are out there. just because you don’t fit into some NBA-prescribed role and aren’t making millions doesn’t mean you can’t tear up players from the Association or the Big East on the playground. can you imagine what Lamar Castile would do to just about every guard in the Big East?

Birch’s contributions will have to come on the defensive end; there just isn’t anything there yet on offense. he does give Pitt a presence blocking shots, which is something I don’t remember ever having. guess he can share some minutes with Zanna and play D and get some garbage putbacks around the hoop. he certainly is fast and he gets higher than anyone i’ve ever seen in person (excepting NBA games), but it’s all potential right now and unless the NBA takes him early on potential, he’ll be around here a while.

JJ Moore is whacked. Incredibly talented and NO idea what’s going on. What a struggle it will be for Dixon to figure out what to do with him.

And yes, TJ McConnell is fun to watch. He’s simply a better all-around basketball player than the Pitt guards and Lamar Castile. He made Birch so much better, because Birch can run the floor like a gazelle and TJ set him up for fast break slams with passes that nobody else in that gym could throw. Plus, he out-rebounds Zanna and steals the rock from someone every couple plays. Frustrating……

Comment by hugh green 07.01.11 @ 9:29 am

Dixon has had five years to figure out what to do with Moore. They call him “Twin” for a reason. Dixon had to deal with the EXACT same issues with Brown. Expect Patterson to start, Jamie can trust him.

Comment by boubacar aw 07.01.11 @ 10:28 am

RandyRandy….Shell could come in and get PT from the start and be the full time guy within a year. That is the biggest draw Pitt has for him, but don’t expect any major commits to do anything until the season gets going. They need to wait and see how this new coach and team do before they start making decisions like that.

Comment by BCPITT 07.01.11 @ 11:21 am

C’mon .. what possible impact can a great RB from Hopewell have on a Pitt FB program?

Comment by wbb 07.01.11 @ 12:57 pm

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