HELENA, Mont. (AP) -Former Montana State football coach Mike Kramer wants compensation from the university for his firing last month, which came days after the arrest of another former Bobcat on drug charges.
Kramer spoke Monday about his dismissal for the first time as university officials prepared to interview four finalists for the job. He was ousted by school officials in mid-May after seven seasons and a 40-43 record.
Attorney Cliff Edwards said Kramer's contract was breached and his career tainted, leaving MSU with ``substantial monetary and legal exposure that need to be addressed.'' Speaking with MSU officials about compensation is the appropriate first step, and helping Kramer ``reclaim his good name'' is one of the goals, said Edwards, adding that a lawsuit had not been filed.
MSU lawyer Leslie Taylor said the university received a letter Monday about compensation negotiations, and will discuss the issue with representatives of the state's self-insurance fund. Kramer worked under an annual contract with a salary of about $135,000.
His firing came days after the arrest of former MSU wide receiver Rick Gatewood on drug charges. Gatewood is accused of using money from his athletic scholarship to traffic in cocaine transported from California to the Bozeman area where Montana State is located.
Gatewood is the sixth former MSU athlete arrested in connection with crimes involving drugs or murder in the past year.
Edwards suggested Kramer became a scapegoat.
``A very good man and a very good Montanan has been, I think, absolutely trashed by people who were covering their own backsides,'' Edwards said.
Taylor said the decision ``to make a change at the top of our football program was precipitated by a series of events concerned with the illegal activities of people associated with the program, but also with the academic culture within our football program, and compliance issues. These problems surfaced over a long period of time and this (firing) decision was not centered on one incident.''
Kramer acknowledged a drug problem in Bozeman. The football team underwent drug testing eight times this spring and a player who twice tested positive was dismissed, he said.
``How are the arrests of ex-athletes related to the athletic department?'' Kramer said.
Edwards said he does not expect his client to regain the MSU job, and the 52-year-old Kramer himself said his ``opportunities to be a Division I head coach again are going to be relatively small.''
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