U mediates to recover Haskins buyout money

Todd Milbourn

Attorneys for the University and Clem Haskins agreed Thursday to begin mediation talks next month, seeking to resolve a more than $1 million University lawsuit against the former coach.
Hennepin County District Court Judge Deborah Hedlund approved the agreement, giving both sides until Nov. 29 to select a mediator.
The University sued Haskins in September in an attempt to recoup much of the $1.5 million paid to buy out his contract in June 1999.
Thursday’s agreement came after both sides broke for a short recess at a hearing called to discuss Haskins’ motion to suspend discovery proceedings until a pending move to dismiss the lawsuit was heard.
Hedlund said a University subpeona of NCAA documents related to Haskins’ misconduct will go forward, but other discovery proceedings are on hold until after the mediation talks slated to begin Dec. 4.
If those talks fail, Haskins’ move for dismissal will be heard in early January, Hedlund said.
“We’re pleased with this result,” said Lorie Gildea, University counselor, adding that if mediation is successful, it would save the University time, money and resources.
Ron Meshbesher, one of Haskins’ attorneys, said he was also optimistic Thursday.
“Mediation is preferable because the contract called for it all along,” he said.
Meshbesher argues the University did not attempt to resolve the dispute with his client as called for in the buyout agreement before filing suit against him.
Gildea contends the University did work to find a resolution prior to seeking legal recourse.
“Those talks were not productive,” Gildea said. “(That) doesn’t say we won’t try again.”
Mediation is a nonbinding intervention by both sides to resolve a suit and is common in civil cases. A neutral third party will sit down with the camps and attempt to facilitate a settlement discussion.
The court will appoint a mediator if the two parties can’t agree on one before the deadline.
The University filed suit against Haskins in the wake of allegations of academic fraud in the men’s basketball program.
In March 1999, former tutor Jan Gangelhoff said she completed more than 400 pieces of coursework for at least 18 players between 1993 and 1998.
After a University investigation, officials decided to buy out Haskins’ contract, saying they did not have direct evidence of the coach’s complicity in the cheating at that time.
Evidence of his misconduct came in July when Haskins admitted to paying Gangelhoff $3,000 to tutor players.
Gildea said she remains confident the University will prevail through mediation or in court.
“This is a very important case for the University,” she said. “We will get our money back.”
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