UO says Moos breached deal.
In response to a January public records request by The Register-Guard, the University of Oregon in July released some documents pertaining to its $1.8 million severance agreement with former director of athletics Bill Moos, retaining others by citing attorney-client privilege or attorney "work product."
The documents don't shed light on some key questions pertaining to Moos' aborted pursuit of the athletic directorship at Nevada-Las Vegas last December, including how the parties defined a Bowl Championship Series conference when the deal was signed. However, it's clear there were discussions between Moos' lawyer and the university regarding the UNLV job - as well as discussion among UO officials about whether to respond to Register-Guard questions on the subject. (They didn't.)
The documents indicate subsequent attempts to work out a "lump sum settlement check," with a UO representative assuring Moos in a Jan. 18 e-mail "I hope we can quickly reach an amicable solution and while I figure you don't hold out much chance for the next, I hope UO and Bill Moos can also resolve this while remaining friends."
The following month, the Washington State job opened, very unexpectedly, when Jim Sterk took the AD job at San Diego State. Moos, an overwhelming choice in the WSU community, was hired in less than two weeks.
On Feb. 24, the day Moos was named to the WSU post, Melinda Grier, then the UO general counsel, wrote a letter to Moos' attorney, Ray Cihak of Corvallis, stating that Moos had rejected Oregon's "final best offer," which would have allowed him to take the WSU job, with his salary there mitigating Oregon's obligation on a dollar-for-dollar basis through the original term of the agreement, with the remainder payable to him if he was no longer in the WSU post, except if fired for cause, during the term of the severance agreement.
"UO has entered into good-faith negotiations over the last few months and ultimately made its final best offer because UO wished to resolve the matter amicably," Grier wrote, "recognizing that Bill believed UO should allow him to assume the position of WSU Athletic Director with only an insubstantial reduction ($50,000) in the total amount UO would pay him."
With no settlement, Grier wrote, "UO considers Bill's acceptance of the WSU Athletic Director position a breach of his agreement with UO. As a result, UO considers it is relieved of its obligation to make further payments."
- Ron Bellamy