Termination Of Bobby Knight’s Contract Of Employment Research Paper
This essay will seek to determine whether Mr. Bobby Knight’s termination as Coach of Basketball at Indiana University was valid. Having entered into a contract of employment with the University, he was entitled to rights and could also be fired for breach of terms of the contract. He argued that he didn’t breach the terms whereas the university maintained that he had. This essay will highlight his rights as well as his potential liability and determine whether the university had followed the due process of firing him.
Bobby Knight is a former basketball coach at the Indiana University. He had entered into a contract of employment with the University whose terms he was bound to. Entering into contracts when hiring employees is a prudent thing to do by the employer. They enable both parties to know what is expected of them in the course of employment. Bobby was a successful coach for the team. He won three NCAA titles at Indian and coached the men’s Olympic basketball team of 1984 to a gold medal. His successful career was however, blemished by several violent temper outbursts for over three decades, both on and off the court. He had been known to throw chairs and antagonize officials during games. He was also accused of insubordination. On one occasion, for instance, he was accused of throwing a vase at a secretary. He was also accused of springing for the throat of a student and player of the University during a practice session. He denied the allegation at first, and then a videotape was produced as evidence. This proof prompted the trustees of the University to place him on probation and wrote a letter to him to tell him that an infringement of the terms of the probation would be a ground for termination. Some of these probation terms included, temper outburst, striking of students and the use of foul language.
The last allegation before he was fired was by a 19-year-old freshman, Kent Harvey, who accused the coach of grabbing him by the elbow and cursing at him. Knight denied this accusation. The University, having had enough of his issues, decided not to honor his contract that was supposed to expire on the 30th of June 2002, but to fire him. It is alleged that meetings were held between Myles Brand, the university president, and separate groups of the University’s Board of trustees. It was argued that these meetings constituted public meetings as defined by state law which the University, being a state agency, was bound. The University should then have given the complainant, Mr. Bobby Knight, a 48 hours’ notice of the meetings. Moreover, the university as a state agent violated the Open Door Law by holding serial meetings. Such meetings allow public officials to meet privately in small groups that don’t meet the quorum to discuss public matters. The University is governed by agency law, this is the law binding an agent authorized to act on behalf of the principal to create legal relations with their parties. Indiana University is an agent of the government and is bound by state laws associated with it in its legal relations with students and its employees.
Bobby’s contract provided that the university could terminate his employment at will. The effect of this was to leave the discretion to determine what to trigger his firing to the university. The letter they wrote to him listing the events that could trigger his termination including, temper outbursts and striking students was, therefore, valid. He however had the right to a 48 hours’ notice of the public meeting that the Board of trustees were to have with the University President. Also, even though the Open Door Law is encouraged in state agencies by state laws, serial meetings are not prohibited. The Board of trustees did not, therefore, violate the procedure of firing by holding serial meetings. They did however violate state law that requires a public notice of the public meeting. All in all, Bobby had breached the terms of probation letter and his termination, therefore, was valid. He however was entitled to seek compensation for not being given a notice of the public meetings.
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