Friday, August 14, 2009

Is Principled Coach Kevin Stallings Contractually Obligated to be Moral?

Posted By on Fri, Aug 14, 2009 at 6:02 AM

click to enlarge Fourth? No, wrong again Kevin. You're No. 1 in our hearts.
  • Fourth? No, wrong again Kevin. You're No. 1 in our hearts.
Vanderbilt men's basketball coach Kevin Stallings has been getting a lot of good pub lately, and rightfully so. First, he dared cross an invisible line in the coaching ranks that keeps signal-callers from speaking out about the thinly-veiled extortion tactics of summer league camp organizers. Then, when a budget shortfall threatened a six-years-in-the-making roundball tour of Australia, he poneyed up $100,000 from his own bank account to keep a promise he'd made to his team. Good stuff. Standing at the other end of the tracks on the media pain train is Louisville coach Rick Pitino. Yesterday, Pitino publicly apologized for an "indiscretion" he committed six years ago. His sin? Sleeping with a woman who was not his wife in a restaurant booth, then giving her $3,000 to get an abortion when she later came with word that she was pregnant and without health insurance. All of this dirty laundry found a spotlight thanks to Pitino, who contacted the FBI back in April with the accusation that his long-since-paid-off paramour was trying to extort him for $10 million. Ugly stuff. From the odd circumstances of Pitino's case was born an even odder nugget of information regarding his contract. The Lousiville Courier-Journal posted the entire document online (basketball, you may have heard, is kind of a big deal in Kentucky), including a couple of clauses that seem to indicate that, if Pitino wasn't living his life according to some as-yet-undefined principles, he could be sacked. Via Deadspin:
Rick Pitino's contract has a couple vaguely worded clauses that could figure into whatever fate awaits him at Louisville. One refers to "acts of moral depravity," the other to "willful misconduct" that "tends to greatly offend the public."
After his apology Pitino said he had no intent to resign. And we're going to go out on a limb when we say that, despite being located very near the buckle of the Bible Belt, Louisville fans will be more than willing to overlook the "acts of moral depravity" committed by their proven winner. But would the same thing happen in Nashville? If Stallings, currently the poster boy (OK, our poster boy) for principled sideline-stompers, got a second-helping of off-the-menu extra hot (wink, wink) at Prince's, would Vandy have recourse to fire him? Sadly, because they're all private and stuff, no one at the University would say whether or not Stallings' contract included a "morality clause." Says Rod Williamson, Director of External Affairs, "We are not bound by any open records statues so we will never reveal data, even if it'd make us look good in a story." Fine Rod. You win for now. But if your boy gets caught with his pants down, you know who to call.

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