MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) -Former West Virginia football coach Rich Rodriguez says Gov. Joe Manchin and three members of the university's board of governors pressured him into signing a new contract before the start of the 2007 season, even though it had a $4 million buyout clause he didn't want.
In a deposition taken last month and released Tuesday, Rodriguez says board members Steve Farmer, Drew Payne and Perry Petroplus also assured him that his outstanding demands for the football program would be met when Mike Garrison became WVU president.
The deposition is part of evidence collection for WVU's lawsuit to recover the $4 million from Rodriguez, who quit in December for the job at Michigan. Rodriguez first agreed to the buyout in a December 2006 term sheet, then accepted it again by signing an amended contract on Aug. 24, 2007.
Rodriguez said he believed the board members partly because they were in influential positions: He says Farmer told him months before the official appointment that Garrison - then a 38-year-old lawyer with thin academic credentials - would get the presidency.
``So when it occurred, it added credence to my belief that, 'Hey, these guys know what's going on,' `` Rodriguez testified at the April 21 proceeding in Michigan.
``Everybody said, 'Trust me. When they get into office, it will be so much better for you,' `` Rodriguez said.
Those conversations occurred in August 2007, as Rodriguez's relationship with athletic director Ed Pastilong disintegrated to the point that the two men barely spoke, Rodriguez testified.
The board members also told him a signed contract would help Garrison's administration get off to a good start.
Rodriguez, who quit after seven seasons at the school, contends he was misled into signing by a variety of promises that were not kept.
WVU says Rodriguez had a sports agent, lawyer and financial adviser throughout the process and knew what he was signing. Rodriguez, however, says he signed under false pretenses, expecting Garrison to keep a verbal promise that the buyout would be reduced or eliminated.
The case will be heard in Monongalia County Circuit Court in Morgantown. A trial date has not been set.
Garrison and his chief of staff, Craig Walker, are among those yet to give depositions.
Rodriguez said the board members told him last summer that the governor wanted the contract signed before football season, so he met with Garrison and Walker on Aug. 24.
``And that's the time when (Garrison) said he didn't believe in buyouts, and that he would reduce it anyway, once he took office,'' Rodriguez testified.
At the meeting, Walker said the governor wanted the contract signed, Rodriguez said.
``And obviously, Joe (Manchin) has a lot of influence and a lot of power,'' he testified. ``I told Craig to go back and tell Joe, 'Don't you have enough issues to worry about running the state of West Virginia? Stay out of football. You know, we've got it under control here.' ``
Manchin, he said, called the next day warning of negative publicity if the coach started the season without a signed contract.
Rodriguez said Manchin told him, ``So I think you should get it signed.''
``I said, 'Joe, we've got it taken care of.' ``

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