Saturday, February 24, 2018

No, Arizona will not owe Sean Miller $10 million if they fire him with cause

Word broke yesterday that Sean Miller is on tape talking about paying DeAndre Ayton to come to Arizona.

Today, there are reports that Arizona will owe Miller the balance of his base salary even if they fire him "with cause," but only 50% of that if they fire him without cause. Can that possibly be correct?

Spoiler alert: No. The argument based on this language in his contract:

And here is Section III, where Base Salary is defined:

This is being interpreted to mean that even if Miller is fired with cause, Arizona will owe him his Base Salary—the yearly salary, plus the $700k in "peripheral duties compensation"—for all those years left on his contract. Even though he won't be working, and indeed will have been fired in disgrace (presumably).

No. Arizona does not have to pay Sean Miller not to work if he's been fired with cause. What the language actually means is that Arizona's only obligation to Miller in the event of a firing with cause will be to pay him the Base Salary that he has earned. In other words, what is actually owed as of the date of termination.

That is the most reasonable interpretation of the language. A salary is not due until it is earned, and Miller will not be earning any salary after the date of the termination.

Moreover, the contract language on what Miller would be owed in the case of a termination of without cause shows the parties used different language when talking about payments that would have been earned in the absence of a termination:

This language shows the parties understood that no further Base Salary would be owed after termination. They needed the "would have ... but for" language to identify those additional funds. That language isn't in the termination with cause provision.

Darren Rovell and others have interpreted these provisions to mean that after termination with cause Miller is owed 100% of his Base Salary that would have been owed to him but for termination and upon termination without cause he would only be owed 50%. That is just obviously incorrect. The "would have ... but for" language would have to be in the termination-for-clause provision for that interpretation to hold water.

Finally, even if it were reasonable and fair to interpret the contract to insert the language that Miller is entitled to 100% of what he would have been owed but for termination with cause, that interpretation would lead to obviously absurd results, and no court would countenance it. Imagine that Miller had just decided to move to Costa Rica and stop coaching. What could the university do? Surely they could terminate him with cause, but that would mean paying him everything he's owed. Ridiculous. 

Or say he had decided to take another job. The contract says explicitly what would happen in that scenario:

Supposedly, Miller would have to pay Arizona $500,000 in liquidated damages if he left for another job. But why would he do that? Why not just stop showing up for work, and show up for the other job instead? All Arizona could do is fire him, with cause, in which case they'd supposedly owe him all the base salary he would have earned but for the termination. Absurd.

Now, Miller may sue and advance this theory. It's plausible enough and there's enough money at stake that a lawyer may take the case. But probably not on contingency. [Cross-posted from Adam's WI Sports Blog]

Thursday, February 15, 2018

A Little Light

Well, a 19-year-old kid went to the Florida high school he used to attend and killed seventeen people by shooting them with an semi-automatic gun. CNN reports that this is the ninth-deadliest mass shooting is "modern" United States history (as this CNN article points out, we say "modern" because it's hard to get data on mass shootings before 1949). ABC News points out that six weeks in to 2018, there have been 18 shootings at a school in the United States. That averages out to three shootings a week! This needs to stop.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

I am thankful for these things (part 2)

Given that this post should appear directly above part 1 of this series, I am just going to jump into the second half of list.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

I am thankful for these things (part 1)

In July, writer Joe Posnanski wrote a blog post about 50 things that make him happy. The concept of the post was to list 50 “non-cynical” things that, obviously, make Mr. Posnanski happy. I enjoyed reading the post a lot. Since imitation is the greatest form of flattery, here is my list of 50 things that make me happy. I am not going to say my happiness is cynical or non-cynical. Cynicism is in the eye the beholder, after all. What I will say, is that these things make me happy regardless of context.  Mr. Posnanski says his things are listed in no order. I suppose that is true for my list too. Mostly because I do not want to have to rate things that make me happy. But, it is fair to say that these things are generally listed in the order that they occurred to me. That may indicate a ranking of a sort. Reader(s)™ might notice that this list does not include many people I know and love. That is because most long-term relationships contain a mixture of emotions, sort of like we see in the movie “Inside Out.” Put another way, if you are not on the list, it is because you were 51.

Friday, October 6, 2017

Earth 1 and Earth 2.

So the New York Times published a story about how movie executive Harvey Weinstein has allegedly been sexually harassing women for many years. I could link to a number of other news reports about other powerful men allegedly doing similar things. Without resorting to Google, Bill O'Reilly and Roger Ailes lost their positions at Fox News recently for similar allegations. Moreover, I think everybody knows about the allegations against Bill Cosby by now.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Don't buy the myth

As is my custom, I did not look at the news Monday morning before I walked to work. So I was in a good mood when I passed the security guard in lobby of the building where I work. My mood got even better when I noticed the guard had set out sugar cookies with pink frosting. When I asked why the cookies were out, the guard said they were to remind folks that October is breast cancer awareness month. I took a cookie and ate it. It was delicious.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Things I learned on my recent trip to North Dakota.

I was in Bismarck, North Dakota, for a couple of days this week. Bismarck, as Reader(s)™ may know, is the capitol of North Dakota. One thinks of North Dakota as being flat and treeless, but Bismarck has more hills than Minneapolis and a lot of trees. Here is a picture I took from a hill on the eastern edge of town.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Not so long ago, really.

Yesterday, Joe Posnanski tweeted this:

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Be candid but not too candid.

Merriam-Webster provides four definitions of the word candor, They are: (1) whiteness, brilliance; (2) freedom from prejudice or malice; (3) kindliness; and (4) unreserved, honest, or sincere expression.  The first and third definitions are described as obsolete and archaic, respectively. In other words, no one means the first or third definitions when they use candor in a sentence. The third definition is not discussed in Garner's Modern American Usuage and if anyone ever meant kindliness when they used the word candor in communicating with me, I am unaware of it. The fourth definition is the one with which most people are familiar.

The example Merriam-Webster uses for the fourth definition is a quote from Aldous Huxley, "the candor with which he acknowledged a weakness in his own case." It is kind of amusing that the example mentions a weak case because a lawyer offering an opinion on their case can get into all kinds of trouble.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

The news, like rust, never sleeps.

Since January 20, I have been trying to avoid the daily national news cycle because the national news frequently has the effect on me of creating a lot of anxiety and if I am going to worry about things I can't control, I would rather worry about things closer to home (which I also can't control but that is a separate issue).  This tweet by Dana Linzer explains why following the daily news cycle can be exhausting.