University of Kentucky basketball rarely intersects with the public policy realm, but it did Wednesday when former coach Billy Gillispie filed a lawsuit seeking $6 million from the program.
The case should be open-and-shut. Gillispie signed a Memorandum of Understanding Offer in April of 2007 stating that if he signed a contract and was subsequently fired without cause, he would be paid $1.5 million for each remaining year of his contract.
Gillispie never signed a contract. Nevertheless, he wants a federal court to award him money as if he had. The University will wind up paying him some money just to make this case (and its inevitable legal expenses) go away.
But if the federal courts operated under a loser-pays policy, UK’s lawyers could go through the legal song and dance and then show the judge where the memorandum says its provisions only become effective after an actual contract is signed. Then Gillispie would not only go home empty-handed, he would have to pay UK’s legal expenses, too.
In the current political environment in both Washington D.C. and Frankfort, loser-pays isn’t going to get any kind of hearing. But if Wildcats fans wonder why their money will wind up going to pay off a fired coach, they should start asking questions at least about making Kentucky a loser-pays state.