By Bob Hertzel
For the Times West Virginian
Mike Kerin, who rose from equipment manager to assistant athletic director of football operations for West Virginia University, filed an age-discrimination suit against the school claiming he was dismissed two years ago because of his age.
It is the second lawsuit filed against the school and its athletic department in recent days, following one filed by Morgantown businessman John Raese. Raese’s suit against a number of top officials at the school, as well as a media company that competes with his own, involved the bidding of Tier 3 media rights and the awarding of a contract for new scoreboards in Milan Puskar Stadium and the Coliseum, as well as charging collusion between WVU and West Virginia Media.
Kerin’s age-discrimination suit was filed by Williamson attorney Susan Van Zant in Kanawha County Circuit Court on Friday and claimed the state Human Rights Act.
It names the board of governors, school President Jim Clements, football coach Dana Holgorsen and director of athletics Oliver Luck.
“The defendants acted in a pattern of discriminatory conduct by terminating the employment of experienced employees in the Athletic Department of West Virginia University by replacing the older employees with young employees,” the complaint states.
After 30 years with the school, Kerin announced his retirement in August 2011 following the dismissal of football coach Bill Stewart and the promotion of Holgorsen to head coach.
However, Kerin left no doubt that his retirement had been forced, stating in a Times West Virginian article, “I decided now was the time because (Luck) didn’t renew my contract, so my future was uncertain. An offer became available, and it was something I was interested in, and I made the decision to go.”
Kerin was replaced by Alex Hammond, a younger man who was promoted from recruiting coordinator to director of football operations. He had held no similar positions in his background.
Kerin, a Colorado native and one-time University of Colorado football player, came to WVU 1980 with coach Don Nehlen, first as equipment manager, then as administrative assistant in 1988 and director of football operations a decade later.
In 2008 he added the title of assistant athletic director of football.
After leaving WVU, Kerin took over as operations director at Mylan Park in Morgantown. Reached at work Tuesday, he refused comment.
Becky Lofstead, a spokeswoman for the school, said no comment would be made on pending litigation.
WVU has 20 days to respond to the suit.
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While WVU has been bogged down in a battle over its Tier 3 media rights that has included acrimonious lawsuits, Big 12 rival Kansas reached a seven-year agreement, beginning in the 2013-14 school year, with ESPN.
Under the agreement, ESPN3 annually will carry a minimum of 70 live events distributed nationally, one of the largest deals the multiscreen network has signed to date.
Kansas Athletics announced recently an agreement under which Time Warner Cable will annually air 50 KU contests — including two exhibition and four non-conference men’s basketball games – exclusively on Metro Sports in Kansas City and in the state of Kansas. ESPN3 will deliver those 50 events nationally outside that territory. ESPN3 will also carry — exclusively — a minimum of 20 additional contests nationally, including in Kansas City and the state of Kansas.
ESPN3 currently reaches more than 85 million homes nationwide to fans that receive their Internet or video subscription from an affiliated provider.
The 70 events include one regular-season football game, the football spring game, six men’s basketball games (including two exhibition games) and basketball’s Late Night in the Phog, as well as 16 women’s basketball games. ESPN3 will also deliver the Kansas Relays and multiple volleyball, baseball, softball and women’s soccer games.
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Schools do not always get an immediate All-American through a transfer, but that’s what WVU got when running back Charles Sims transferred to the Mountaineers from Houston. Just two days after the transfer was announced officially, Athlon Magazine came out had Sims as its fourth-team, All-American all-purpose back.
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John Pacquette, long-time director of communications for the Big East Conference, announced his retirement this week. The conference has a new commissioner and has become the All-American Conference.
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Gary McPherson, who served two stints as a West Virginia University assistant basketball coach and had a long career as a fundraiser, will retire Friday after 40 years with the school.
McPherson first coached under Sonny Moran in 1970 and then joined Gale Catlett until 1993 as an assistant.
McPherson served six years as the director of the Mountaineer Athletic Club. The last 14 years his title has been senior development officer in continuation of fundraising for athletics.
Email Bob Hertzel at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @bhertzel.