On September 19, 2011, Mike Haywood (“Haywood”) filed suit against the University of Pittsburgh (“Pitt”) relating to his termination as head football coach. Haywood was a football coach on the rise after quickly turning around the football program at Miami University (of Ohio). On December 15, 2010, Pitt hired Haywood to serve as its head football coach, but ultimately terminated his employment for cause only seventeen days after his employment began.
On New Year’s Eve of 2010, Haywood arrived at a home he owns in South Bend, Indiana where the mother of his child and his son resided. In accordance with the terms of the custody agreement, Haywood was entitled to have visitation with his son on that date and, thus, Haywood arrived to spend time with his son. His son’s mother would not allow Haywood to visit his son, thus Haywood left the home and returned later. When Haywood returned, he noticed a television was on, but he could not locate anyone inside the house. Upon entering the house, he noticed an open wine bottle and became worried for the safety of his child. Shortly thereafter, the mother of Haywood’s child emerged screaming obscenities.
As a result of the woman’s “erratic, irrational behavior and remarks,” Haywood became more concerned and started looking for his child. He located his son in the car in the garage. Accordingly, he tried to remove his son from the vehicle and the mother tried to pull him away. When Haywood removed her hand from his shoulder, the woman “slipped in the slush that was on the garage floor,” but Haywood was able to catch her before she hit the ground. The woman then called the police and Haywood was ultimately taken into custody.
Subsequently, the media received wind of the incident and reported nationally that Haywood was involved in a domestic dispute. According to Haywood, he was never afforded and opportunity to discuss the matter with Pitt and explain his version of the facts. Haywood’s agent was informed that he was terminated and Haywood was not provided the opportunity to speak to decision makers before his termination.
As a result, Haywood is seeking $3,750,000.00 in damages ($750,000.00 for each of the five years on his contract) and $300,000.00 for the buyout fee owed to Miami University (of Ohio).