Gillispie sues UK

Published 12:42 am Thursday, May 28, 2009

LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) — Former Kentucky men’s basketball coach Billy Gillispie sued the school Wednesday, seeking at least $6 million he says he is owed on his deal after being fired without cause.

Gillispie, who was dismissed last spring, was working under a memorandum of understanding but hadn’t signed a formal contract during the two years he coached the Wildcats.

He contends that under that memorandum, he should be paid $1.5 million a year for four of the five years left on the deal. The suit also asks for an undisclosed amount of punitive damages, attorneys’ fees, court costs and interest.

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The lawsuit filed in federal court in Dallas contends the school’s athletics association is in breach of contract and has committed fraud because the university never intended to honor the agreement.

‘‘Rather than honor its written, signed deal with coach Gillispie, defendant prefers instead to pretend as though no deal was ever reached,’’ the lawsuit says. ‘‘Unfortunately for defendant, its make-believe world is just that.’’

University attorneys expressed surprise over the lawsuit.

‘‘The university was continuing to negotiate a separation in good faith and his counsel had asked for more time,’’ they said in a statement.

Kentucky athletics director Mitch Barnhart, reached Wednesday at the Southeastern Conference meetings in Destin, Fla., said he had no comment.