NMU coach wins lawsuit against former employer

Brice Burge

Northern Michigan’s defensive coordinator Randy Awrey won a law suit against his former employer, Saginaw Valley State University last Wednesday, March 30, after a jury unanimously decided that he did not breach his contract by knowingly committing an NCAA violation in the 2005 and 2007 season. Awrey received a $23,000 completion bonus from the contract, but also recovered his reputation, a point both him and his lawyer Roland J. Jersevic stressed during the procedures.

“We’re happy with the results and we’re happy that it’s over,” Awrey said.

The case presented was the first time that Awrey felt he could express his side of the issue, the coach said. Awrey believes that reports of NCAA violations don’t usually go to court, but through the process of the trial based on contractual issues over a clause that stated the end of the contract, the information that emerged could clear his name.

“Of the things we wanted, we got it all,” Awrey said. “It wasn’t about the contract or the money it was about getting my name cleared. “

Saginaw Valley officials filed a self-report of NCAA violations in November 2007, as they claimed Awrey violated rules with barter agreements with Cardinal Townhomes apartment complex in Saginaw, Mich. for two graduate assistant coaches and reduced rent for his two sons that played on the team. According to the coach, he received only one meeting to share information and documents with the school in the process of his investigation.

“I presented all the info I had, and they didn’t believe a word of it,” Awrey said. “(The meeting) wasn’t right or had anything truthful about it.”

Both groups claimed breach of contract and sued each other, after SVSU claimed that Awrey’s alleged NCAA violations breached agreements in the contract. SVSU sued for “nominal damages” or a jury’s decision that SVSU was correct in its claims while Awrey was seeking lost wages damages from the university. Saginaw Valley spokesman J.J. Boehm said that the university officials were “satisfied with the outcome,” in an emailed statement and the separation with their former coach, despite Awrey going 76-27 (71-20 GLIAC) at the helm of the Cardinals in nine seasons to make him the winningest coach in school history.

“(SVSU) believes it did the right thing by reporting violations that the NCAA accepted. In any event, it is much for the best that Randy Awrey is no longer associated with SVSU in any way,” Boehm said.

Coach Awrey came to NMU in 2008, all of which has been at the defensive coordinator position. Awrey also played for the Wildcats and was named MVP of the 1975 national championship game.