Oklahoma State lawsuit vs Texas assistant set for trial

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) – Oklahoma State’s breach-of-contract lawsuit against former football assistant coach Joe Wickline is headed to trial in 2016.

Wickline and Oklahoma State had wanted Oklahoma District Court Judge Stephen Kistler to rule in their favor from the bench. In a ruling signed late Monday, Kistler determined the case still has “genuine issues of material fact that justify a trial.”

Oklahoma State says Wickline owes the school nearly $600,000 for his move to Texas, where he is primarily the offensive line coach, instead of taking a job that required him to call plays, as specified in his previous contract. Sworn testimony from Wickline and Texas head coach Charlie Strong said Wickline did call some plays in 2014. Those duties are now assigned to assistant Jay Norvell.

The case has been a curiosity around the Big 12 and college football because it has one rival program’s lawyers probing the inner workings and strategy sessions of another.

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Although Texas has not been named in the lawsuit, the case has been uncomfortable for the Longhorns program. Strong, assistant head and former lead play caller Shawn Watson, and Wickline have already given long depositions. And there may be more to come.

After Strong gave play-calling duties to Norvell after the first game this season, Oklahoma State informed Texas it wants new depositions from Strong and his assistants, as well as assistant athletic director Arthur Johnson and former starting quarterback Tyrone Swoopes, who is still on the team.

Also targeted for a deposition is former Texas athletic director Steve Patterson, who was forced to resign earlier this month. Interim AD Mike Perrin has declined comment.

Wickline attorney Guy Clark said he thinks the previous statements show that Wickline called plays.

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“There is strong support for that, but it will be up to a jury to decide,” Clark said.

Longhorns fans have clamored for Texas to help Wickline settle the case without further depositions or distractions for the program. Clark said he hasn’t discussed that possibility with Wickline.

“The University of Texas does not have any legal obligation to Wickline with respect his Oklahoma State contract or to Oklahoma State with respect to that contract,” Clark said.

Oklahoma State spokesman Gary Shutt said in a statement, “We look forward to completing the discovery process and resolving the matter at trial.” Texas officials did not respond to requests for comment.

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Oklahoma State beat Texas 30-27 last week. In Norvell’s third game calling the Texas offense, the Longhorns scored just one offensive touchdown, had 11 first downs and 290 total yards.