BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - For the better part of 2015, LSU and its former defensive coordinator have been at odds over the timing of when Chavis took a job at another university and whether he owes LSU a $400,000 buyout.
LSU attorney Bob Barton used the words innocent, unintentional and immaterial to describe allegations that the university made changes to the 2012 contract signed by former defensive coordinator John Chavis.
Chavis, who is now in the same position at Texas A&M, was in a Baton Rouge court Thursday for a hearing in the ongoing lawsuit with his former employer.
LSU is suing Chavis to collect $400,000. They say the coach breached his contract when he took the job with LSU's competitor.
Chavis is also seeking damages for unpaid wages and also has a defamation claim against LSU. According to court documents, Chavis' attorney Jill craft said LSU made changes to correctly reflect the president of the system and also changed part of the buyout clause.
At some point after Chavis had signed his 2012 contract and sent it to LSU, someone at the LSU System Office "preferred slightly different wording in Chavis' employee-termination-without-cause provision." In documents from LSU's attorney, a change was made under liquidated damages in section 12.
"Remaining months on contract are between 24 months to 36 months - liquidated damages are One Million and No/100 ($1,000,000.00); remaining months on contract are between 11 months and 23 months - liquidated damages under are Four Hundred Thousand and No/100 ($400,000)" was changed to "Remaining months on contract are between the first day of the 36th month remaining to the last day of the 24th month remaining - liquidated damages are One Million and No/100 dollars ($1,000,000.00); remaining months on contract are between the first day of the 23rd month remaining to the last to the last day of the 12th month remaining - liquidated damages are Four Hundred Thousand and No/100 dollars ($400,000)."
"You can't sue somebody for breach of contract if you don't have any contract," said Craft. She went on to say that since Chavis did not sign the same contract that other LSU staff signed off on, then why is there a case?
"The 'alteration' issue is nothing more than an attempt to divert attention from the real issues," said LSU's attorney Bob Barton in a statement. "Just as Mr. Chavis was entitled to his generous salary and other benefits under that agreement, LSU is entitled to enforce the liquidated damages provision of the agreement."
They say those damages would be owed if Chavis left LSU before February 2015. However, Chavis and his new employer, Texas A&M say the coach was not hired until after February 1.