MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) -Rich Rodriguez says opening the books of West Virginia's private fundraising arm is the only way to determine whether his abrupt resignation as football coach harmed the school financially.
That was a key demand in the formal response that Rodriguez filed Friday to WVU's lawsuit over the $4 million buyout clause in his contract. He also said it was the administration's actions - not a better offer - that forced him to resign in December and take the coaching job at Michigan.
Largely, Rodriguez's answer to the lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Clarksburg restated many of the arguments his camp has made since Dec. 18, when his resignation sparked a feud with the school. His lawyers have ratcheted up the stakes by drawing the WVU Foundation into the matter.
The foundation, which had been run in part by WVU president Mike Garrison's chief of staff, Craig Walker, is not legally obligated to open its books to public scrutiny under ordinary circumstances. But the foundation is a key part of keeping the WVU football program self-sufficient.
``The only way to tell whether or not West Virginia University has been damaged is to see if its donations to the foundation have decreased and/or if other expenses have increased,'' his lawyers said, noting WVU hired assistant coach Bill Stewart to replace Rodriguez at a significantly smaller salary.
Rodriguez asked the court to make the foundation a third party to the lawsuit, citing recent news releases that claimed gifts to the foundation ``were at an all-time high.'' He wants the right to examine its books to find out if donations have dropped off since his departure.
Rodriguez also aimed to disprove Garrison's alleged assertion that ``certain large donors'' demanded the coach's contract include the $4 million buyout clause.
Rodriguez has repeatedly claimed that WVU broke the contract by failing to honor a variety of verbal promises, including one to reduce or eliminate his buyout.
WVU, which sued Dec. 27, denies such a promise was made.
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