Kent State drops Bradley lawsuit, Ford still in litigation

Kent State University’s attorneys announced Wednesday they were dismissing the lawsuit against Bradley for its hiring process of men’s basketball Coach Geno Ford, according to a Bradley news release.

But KSU’s breach of contract lawsuit against Ford is ongoing, the Peoria Journal Star reported.

The original lawsuit, filed in July, focused on Ford’s departure from KSU following the 2010-11 season with four years remaining on his contract of $300,000 per year. Ford’s contract stated that if he left Kent State for another school before the end of his contract that either he or his new employer was responsible for the balance of it.

The total balance was $1.2 million, and KSU is still seeking that amount from Ford, the PJ Star reported. KSU pursued the lawsuit when Bradley hired Ford in March 2011. The trial was scheduled to begin Oct. 7 in Portage County, Ohio.

The Bradley news release stated “Bradley has consistently maintained that Kent State consented on multiple occasions to Ford interviewing for the Braves head coaching position.”

“Our actions during the hiring of Coach Ford, just like the hiring of all our staff members, were ethical, legal and transparent,” Director of Athletics Michael Cross said in the news release. “[University President Joanne] Glasser and all of us associated with the issue have always been confident that the hiring of Coach Ford was completely appropriate. We are very pleased that Bradley University’s position is effectively supported by this dismissal.”

Kent State was asking for $1.6 million from Bradley, but will receive nothing from its unilateral dismissal of the lawsuit, the PJ Star reported.

“It is not clear why Kent State used taxpayer dollars to pursue this case against Bradley and then withdrew it less than two weeks before trial,” Bradley attorney Bill Kohlhase said in the news release. “In my experience, however, plaintiffs do not dismiss a case if they believe they would receive a damage award by going to trial. As a result of the dismissal, it is as if the case against Bradley was never filed.”

Kent State can, however, refile the case within one year, the PJ Star reported. But KSU’s university president Lester Lefton has announced his retirement at the end of the 2013-14 school year, which makes the action seem doubtable.

The $1.2 million ruling from KSU against Ford is still outstanding. The dismissal on Wednesday may move the case up a few days on the Portage County court docket. Kohlhase said that once some minor issues are resolved, Ford would appeal the Portage County Common Pleas judge’s July ruling against Ford in an effort to send the case to appellate court, the PJ Star reported.

According to the Ohio court’s summary judgment evidence disclosed in July, the PJ Star reported, Ford’s Bradley contact called for BU to pay $400,000 toward the coach’s liquidated damages to KSU.