Sources told HornsDigest Patti Ohlendorf, Texas’ vice president for legal affairs, has contacted attorneys for Oklahoma State to begin the process of settling a contract dispute lawsuit seeking roughly $600,000 filed by OSU in October 2014 against Texas football offensive assistant Joe Wickline.
OSU officials argued Wickline’s contract stipulated a buyout of $593,478 if he left for a position at a Big 12 school other than an offensive coordinator job “with play-calling duties.”
At the time of the lawsuit, even though Wickline had the title of offensive coordinator, OSU claimed Shawn Watson was the offensive play caller at Texas - not Wickline. Last month, Texas coach Charlie Strong replaced Watson as play caller with Jay Norvell.
The suit is expected to be settled for roughly $300,000, according to sources.
Ohlendorf, whose son, Ross, is a pitcher for the Texas Rangers (who open the American League playoffs in Toronto on Thursday), didn’t immediately return a message left by HD.
Oklahoma State athletic director Mike Holder declined comment Tuesday night.
Texas interim athletic director Mike Perrin, a successful attorney in Houston who played football at UT under former coach Darrell Royal from 1965-68, on Saturday called the lawsuit “a distraction.”
That’s probably because Charlie Strong, Wickline and Watson went through lengthy depositions in March 2015 about just who was running the Texas offense.
When asked who made the most play calls, Wickline said he did. Watson said he did. Strong said they both did.
Strong was asked specifically who called the most offensive plays in a 31-7 bowl loss to Arkansas, when UT ran 18 times for 2 yards and produced a total of 59 yards.
“I don’t want to remember that game, we were so bad,” Strong said.
At one point while being deposed, Strong forgot Texas QB Tyrone Swoopes’ first name.
“Swoopes,” Strong said.
The Oklahoma State attorney asked, “What’s his first name?”
“He goes by Swoopes,” Strong said.
The gaffe by Strong was picked up in news reports. Strong was asked in July if Swoopes was mad his coach couldn’t remember the Texas QB’s name.
“Yeah, I’m sure he was mad,” Strong said. “But they were asking me so much stuff, I couldn’t even remember my own address.”
After Strong replaced Watson as play caller on offense with Jay Norvell last month, Oklahoma State attorneys indicated to The Associated Press they would want new depositions from Strong, Wickline and Watson as well as Swoopes.
Perrin said Saturday he was reading pleadings in the case. And on Monday, sources said, Ohlendorf reached out to Ok State attorneys about their willingness to settle.
The suit is expected to be settled for roughly $300,000 by the end of the month, sources said.
If that happens, it will have taken Perrin roughly a month to accomplish what former Texas AD Steve Patterson refused to do since March of 2014, sources told HD.
That’s when Oklahoma State athletic director Mike Holder reached out to Patterson on multiple occasions to try to settle the suit, and, according to sources, Patterson never made a meaningful attempt to respond to Holder. Patterson was fired 22 months into a six-year, guaranteed deal as AD at Texas on Sept. 15 and will receive a $2.8 million settlement, sources have told HD.
OSU officials argued Wickline’s contract stipulated Wickline owed a buyout of $593,478 if he left for anything other than an offensive coordinator job “with play-calling duties.”
While UT football assistant coaches bought houses in Austin when they joined the staff in early 2014, sources said Wickline, who earns $575,000 annually, has lived in an apartment.
Sources said Wickline was hesitant to buy a house until his legal matter was settled.
Perrin was determined to settle the lawsuit with OSU, sources said, because it shows the kind of support Texas coaches deserve so they can focus on their jobs and improving their student-athletes.
Sources said there is genuine concern from Perrin and new Texas president Gregory Fenves about if UT coaches, Charlie Strong, in particular, were supported the way they should be under Patterson.
Brian Davis, the chief academic advisor for football, as well as sports information director John Bianco, both people Strong trusted, were fired by Patterson without consulting Strong.
HD reported Tuesday Bianco was on campus assisting Strong with an interview being done by ESPN’s Tom Rinaldi, but Bianco had not (yet) been rehired, sources said.