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Houston releases a statement on Michael Young’s lawsuit

Jul 10, 2013, 1:46 PM EDT

University of Houston Athletics University of Houston Athletics

Over the weekend, Joseph Young’s father, Michael, went public with a lawsuit that he filed against the University of Houston regarding his employment and his son’s status as a member of the basketball team.

Long story short, Michael was the Director of Basketball Operations and was reassigned into a program without any association with the basketball team around the same time that his son decided to transfer out of the program. Joseph has since committed to Oregon, and will need a waiver from the NCAA to use his final two seasons of eligibility. Michael is claiming in the lawsuit that the job he received was a no-show job where he would still get paid as long as his son played for the school, and he’s looking to get the contract voided so as to avoid having it be an NCAA violation.

On Wednesday, the school sent out a release responding to the accusations made by the Youngs.

“The University offered the new contract to Young containing the community relations duties, and he signed the contract on May 30, 2013,” the release said. “The University has continued its obligations under this new contract and has tried to assign him duties, only to be rebuffed by Young’s attorney. However, because Young, through his attorney, refused to perform any duties under the new contract, the University was compelled to provide notice to Young on June 17, 2013, that it was exercising its right under the contract to terminate the contract on 30 days’ notice. The University will continue its contractual obligations to pay Young through July 17, 2013.”

“At no time was Young informed that he should or could sit at home, not perform work and accept a paycheck from the University, nor was Young ever told his employment was contingent on his son playing basketball for the University. Young’s arrangement in his new community relations role was reviewed by the Athletic Department’s compliance office, as well as the Office of the General Counsel, to ensure it was in compliance with applicable laws and NCAA bylaws.  The University has been transparent, and its actions have been appropriate. We are disheartened and saddened to hear these allegations we believe are baseless and untrue.  We do not intend to comment further except to state we look forward to defending our actions in court.”

As John Infante of the Bylaw Blog notes, the elder Young was, essentially, fired on June 17th, meaning that his son’s path to a waiver with Oregon should be clear; the outcome of this lawsuit probably won’t affect whether or not the NCAA allows him to play next season.

Now the question becomes whether or not Houston actually committed an NCAA violation when they reassigned Young. As Infante explains here, Bylaw 11.4.2 says that within two years, either before or after a player enrolls at a school, that school cannot sign a contract with anyone associated with the athlete unless that person takes a spot as one of the school’s three assistant coaches. The intent was to eliminate package deals where the coach or parent of a player would get a job on the coaching staff — i.e. assistant strength and conditioning director — in exchange for the player signing with the school.

Young was reassigned and signed a new contract that , which, by the letter of the law, violates a rule. Houston makes it clear that the job they hired Young for was not a no-show job, but, as Infante says, “real jobs as just as prohibited by Bylaw 11.4.2 as fake jobs“:

A reassignment is different than a promotion, raise, extension, or renegotiation of a contract. Everyone agrees that this is a “new contract”. And the grandfather clause says “contracts signed” before Bylaw 11.4.2 was proposed can be honored, not “employment started” before that date.

But I might not be disagreeing with Houston, I might be disagreeing with the NCAA. Houston possibly, maybe even likely, got an interpretation from the NCAA, Conference USA, or both. In which case it doesn’t matter how I read the bylaw, I’m wrong and they are correct.

It will be interesting to see how this plays out, but I get the feeling that it will be all but forgotten if Joseph Young gets his waiver from the NCAA.

You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.