Accused worker extended job offer
Share with others:
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Former West Virginia football coach Rich Rodriguez said he would find a job at Michigan for a WVU athletic fund-raiser being investigated over an alleged racist remark, according to a sworn affidavit obtained by The Associated Press.
Larry Aschebrook confronted Rodriguez and former assistant coach Calvin Magee after being informed of a West Virginia investigation into Magee's accusation. Aschebrook has denied making any such remark.
Magee's agent Mike Brown said Aschebrook told Magee, who is black, that he wouldn't have a chance at Rodriguez's former job because of his skin color.
University president Mike Garrison asked the university's Office of Social Justice in January to look into the allegations, which Magee initially made through his agent, who is also Rodriguez's agent.
In an affidavit dated March 25, Aschebrook said he called Rodriguez in Ann Arbor, Mich., and told Rodriguez and Magee that the allegations were going to ruin his career.
Aschebrook said in the affidavit that Rodriguez told him: "Don't worry about it. I'll get you a job up here. You've been loyal to me, I'll be loyal to you."
Rodriguez, who took over as head coach at Michigan in December and hired Magee as an assistant coach, suggested Aschebrook could raise money for Michigan football and work at his football camp.
"I then asked, 'Why are you guys messing with my career?' " Aschebrook said in the affidavit. "I'm not admitting to something that isn't true."
Rodriguez responded: "Like I said, I'll get you a job tomorrow. You'll be fine."
Instead, Aschebrook, who was hired in August as executive director of the Mountaineer Athletic Club, is leaving at the end of the month for a fund-raising job at Arizona State. He said yesterday the move had nothing to do with the WVU investigation.
Aschebrook's attorney, Dean Hartley of Wheeling, said he would like to see Rodriguez publicly clear his client's name.
"Sure. I mean, if Rich and Calvin were interested in hiring Larry at Michigan, the allegation that Larry is a racist has no basis in fact, does it?" Hartley said. "Why would an individual who has alleged that another individual is racist want to work with that person?"
WVU and Rodriguez are mired in a bitter public feud and a lawsuit over a $4 million buyout clause that Rodriguez claims he was pressured to sign -- but was assured would never be enforced.
The affidavit said Magee initially said the conversation occurred Dec. 21 in Magee's office, but he later recalled it was Dec. 19. Aschebrook's affidavit said he never went to Magee's office on those days and was in fact out of state on Dec. 21.
"It is my firm belief that Mr. Magee has made these allegations simply to divert attention away from the valid-buyout provision in Mr. Rodriguez's contract with the University so as to taint the University in hopes that litigation can be resolved," Aschebrook said.
Telephone messages left with Rodriguez and Magee concerning Aschebrook's affidavit weren't immediately returned.
Jennifer McIntosh, executive director of the Office of Social Justice, did not return several telephone messages about the status of her investigation. University officials have not said when or whether her report will be released.
Magee indicated he told McIntosh that Aschebrook "had nothing to do with this," and that Magee's complaint was about treatment from athletic director Ed Pastilong and WVU president Mike Garrison.
Magee indicated he had received a letter from McIntosh "telling me that I'm a liar."
Meanwhile, the WVU Foundation wants Rodriguez to pay $30,000 for dragging it into a lawsuit over his buyout clause.
A motion filed in Monongalia County Circuit Court accuses Rodriguez's lawyers of a frivolous and unfounded attempt to make the foundation a third party to the case.
Lawyer Stephen Crislip says the foundation spent $29,461 on attorneys' fees and $826 on other expenses.
The foundation is the private fundraising arm of the university and a key contributor to athletics.
First Published April 18, 2008 12:00 am