Former Cougar Legend's Lawsuit Phi Slama Jama Dismissed
Michael Young's lawsuit against his former employer, the University of Houston, has been dismissed. The lawsuit, which read like a minor thriller considered and rejected by Elmore Leonard, has been tossed into the trash can of bad ideas where it belongs, alongside all those bad-idea lawsuits that are so often considered but never filed with a court.
That's good news for the Cougar basketball program, which can now put the Michael Young-legend/employee era behind it and move on toward the future. It's not really such great news for Young, the former Phi Slama Jama legend who sullied his reputation in his quest to take down head coach James Dickey and AD Mack Rhoades.
There are still lots of unanswered questions left by this whole fiasco. Like who was the unknown man who mysteriously approached a jogging Young one morning and told him about threats that had been made toward Young's son Joseph, then UH basketball's leading scorer. What were the nature of these threats? And did UH really try to cover up the nature of these threats?
But the biggest question left to be answered is probably the simplest question to ask: Why? Why did Michael Young choose this route? Why sue the school and bring down this level of scrutiny onto a program that has been on the brink of irrelevancy since the late 1980?
The basis of the lawsuit was Lewis being reassigned to a different role with the basketball program after signing his contract. Lewis claimed this new position amounted to nothing more than his being paid to sit around and do nothing. Especially since the school supposedly said he could keep the job for as long as his son remained on the team. Then came the morning jog and the unknown man telling him of the threats made against his son. So Young had second thoughts and tried to rescind the contract, e-mailing the school and attempting to get out of it. But UH refused to accept the rescission, stating that Young had not followed proper procedures. The school still considered him to be an employee and continued to pay him.
Thus was the lawsuit filed, Young seeking to have the court rescind it. But that point was mooted when the school, following the provisions of the contract, terminated Young's contract, leaving no issue to be decided on by the court.
What happens next in this saga? Joseph Young transferred to Oregon. Michael Young's contract has been terminated. Despite Young's allegations, there do not appear to have been any NCAA investigations. There were no changes to the coaching staff and the school officially starts play in the brand-new American Athletic Conference next month.
Young's attorney has pledged to appeal the dismissal and questioned the wisdom of the judge in finding in the school's favor. But it's really hard to understand how the judge could rule differently because once UH terminated the contract, there was no action for the court to take because Young was asking the court to terminate the contract.
Instead of appealing, maybe Young's attorney should consider filing a proper lawsuit. Maybe sue for breach of contract because of the demotion. It just seems stupid and pointless to continue pursuing litigation centered on asking a court to rescind a contract that has already been terminated.
It's a shame that this all had to happen. That the name of a school legend had to be tarnished. That someone tried to punish a coach for having a say in who is part of his staff. That the state had to waste taxpayer dollars defending the university. But ultimately it's all just a shame because now the identity of the unknown man will never be known.
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you'll never miss Houston Press' biggest stories.