Wild times at WVU
This could be a soap opera for television and Mike Garrison would have the lead role. I am referring to the turmoil which has seemed to dog West Virginia University's new president since he took office in August.
Garrison's ascension to the post of WVU's president was rocky from the very start. His appointment was criticized from many corners as being a political one. He was an attorney, not an academic was the criticism most often heard. Never mind that his successful predecessor, David Hardesty, was also an attorney, many felt some more deserving people were passed over for Garrison who was well connected.
Garrison's rough ride has become very tenuous since the resignation of football coach Rich Rodriguez in December. Rodriguez implicated Garrision as being a factor in the coach's decision to leave WVU for Michigan. Essentially, Rodriguez claimed Garrison told him that they would work to reduce his buyout. Of course Rodriguez is now being sued for the $4 million by WVU since the former coach has declined to pay up.
Now comes word that Heather Bresch was awarded an EMBA degree from WVU without having done the course work to earn the degree. We will not go into great detail here on that, but Bresch is Governor Joe Manchin's daughter and the smell of impropriety is all over this one. Resignations have already resulted from this, but many are calling for Garrison's head, and he is holding his ground so far. Look for the pressure to mount.
It is, however, the Rodriguez saga we will discuss further. A couple interesting tidbits emerged from the recently conducted deposition of Rodriguez. The first item of interest is the confirmation that Rodriguez's agent Mike Brown contacted Michigan on Rodriguez's behalf. That dispels all notions that Rodriguez was not looking for another job.
Brown made contact with Michigan on December 11 and on December 14 Rodriguez met with Michigan officials in Toledo. On December 16 Rodriguez told his team he was leaving.
So, while that is a nice tidbit, here is one to sink your teeth into. Michigan's offer included a $2 million buyout clause. Now, based on the fact that Rodriguez is in a bitter legal dispute with WVU over a $4 million buyout which Rodriguez's lawyer compared to slavery, one would think that could be a deal breaker.
Think again. At the request of Rodriguez, the buyout figure in the Michigan contract was raised to the same $4 million that he had in the WVU contract. Of course he wants the buyout in the UM contract so that they would have to pay him if they fire him, the same as WVU would have done had the shoe been on the other foot. At some point one has to wonder what Rodriguez and his merry band of advisors are doing. He looks just plain silly.
Further, one has to wonder just how Michigan is feeling about their hire at this point. Smart money says many in the hierarchy are gritting their teeth, because this episode has to be embarrassing to that proud institution.
Right now WVU appears to be in good shape in this process, but the academic scandal could spill over and cause some problems. On the surface it seems the two aren't related, but who knows how a skillful attorney may gain leverage with the Garrison angle.