Judge rules against Texas coach in dispute with former school
AUSTIN, Texas — A Texas court on Thursday dismissed a lawsuit by University of Texas assistant Joe Wickline over a contract dispute with his former team, Oklahoma State.
Texas hired Wickline as offensive line coach and offensive coordinator in 2014. Oklahoma State and athletic director Mike Holder then sued him for nearly $600,000 in damages, saying a clause in his contract let him leave the Cowboys after nine years without penalty only if he took a job with play-calling duties
Wickline argued he does call plays and countersued, although most of those duties appear to belong to assistant head coach Shawn Watson.
The judge agreed that Wickline can’t sue in Texas over the terms of his Oklahoma State contract, which included a clause that required any disputes be filed in Payne County, Oklahoma.
Oklahoma State sued Wickline in Payne County and a judge has allowed that to proceed. Wickline had argued he can’t get a fair trial there and wanted the case moved to Austin or federal court in Oklahoma.
Wickline’s attorney, David Beck, who earlier Thursday was appointed as a University of Texas regent, said Wickline will consider filing a new lawsuit in Oklahoma.
”It’s over in Texas,” Breen said, adding Oklahoma State intends to pursue the case in its home court. ”They feel the contract needs to be honored.”
Wickline’s loss in Austin could be a win for Texas if it keeps head coach Charlie Strong and his players out of court.
Although the University of Texas has not been named a party in either lawsuit, Oklahoma State attorney Sean Breen had said that if Wickline’s countersuit was allowed to proceed, he would likely seek sworn testimony from Longhorns coaches, players and administrators about who calls plays.
That could have potentially forced Strong to answer questions about the inner workings of his program. Although Strong said when he hired Wickline that he would call plays, he later said Watson would have final say in that area. Texas went 6-7 in Strong’s first season.
Whether Oklahoma State will seek testimony from Texas officials in the Oklahoma lawsuit was not immediately clear. An Oklahoma State spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment and online court records show no filings since Jan. 5.
Longhorns athletic director Steve Patterson has said he considers the case a dispute between Wickline and Oklahoma State.