Ousted Kentucky State University football coach Fred Farrier has sued his former employer, claiming he was fired without cause and the university owes him severance pay.
But university officials say Farrier never signed a contract, and they asked last week that the suit be dismissed.
The suit, filed in Franklin Circuit Court last month, names the university, KSU President Mary Sias and Athletics Director Denisha Hendricks as defendants.
According to the suit, KSU hired Farrier in March 2005 with a two-year contract that was later renewed until June 30, 2009.
Before the contract expired, the suit says KSU’s assistant athletic director told Farrier the contract was being renewed again. KSU issued a form renewing the agreement, the suit says, and Farrier believed officials had approved it.
Farrier continued to work as KSU head football coach, representing the university at the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference annual media day and season kickoff luncheon, the suit says.
But on July 25, 2009 – about 10 days before players were set to report – Farrier was fired without cause, the suit says.
While Farrier served as football coach, he received “average or above average performance reviews,” it says. The Thorobreds ended the 2008 season – Farrier’s last as coach – with a 3-8 record.
Since he believed he was returning to KSU as head coach, Farrier didn’t apply for other coaching positions for the 2009 football season.
“Such coaching opportunities were no longer available for the ensuing season given the late date upon which he was terminated,” the suit says.
The suit also alleges that Farrier hasn’t landed a head coaching job since he left KSU because Sias and Hendricks “have made derogatory comments” about him.
Farrier is seeking an unspecified amount of severance pay, accrued vacation time and out-of-pocket expenses from his time as head coach. He wants damages for “impairment of his career” because of the alleged derogatory comments, according to the suit.
He’s also asking for money KSU withheld from “numerous paychecks” in 2006 as a “tuition reimbursement” for his wife. The suit says Farrier’s wife was a scholarship recipient and didn’t owe tuition.
Louisville attorneys Michael Valenti and Lee Archer are representing Farrier.
The university – represented by Frankfort attorney Bill Johnson – responded last week, asking the court to dismiss the lawsuit because Farrier never signed a contract with KSU, and that the statute of limitations has run out for his case.
Neither Farrier nor the university could be reached for comment by press time.
Speaking at football media day a few days after the firing, Sias declined to discuss the circumstances surrounding Farrier’s dismissal, but said he was due for an evaluation.
“This was the end of five years, it was time for an evaluation,” she said, according to a 2009 report in The State Journal. “That was a normal course in the terms of the contracts we give coaches.”
Sias said that the football program reports directly to her through the athletic director and that it’s an important part of the university. She said the team hadn’t been as “consistent” the last few seasons under Farrier.
“Winning is important, but it’s not the be all, end all,” she said.
“How students perform, how they act, how they play and in some instances you just decide that you want to go in a different direction.”
Wayne Dickens replaced Farrier as head coach.