Texas offensive line coach Joe Wickline heads into Notre Dame Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 5, 2015. (RODOLFO GONZALEZ / AMERICAN-STATESMAN)

Football

Notebook: Joe Wickline legal drama headed for courtroom

Payne County judge orders trial to begin in March 2016

Posted September 29th, 2015

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The judge in the Oklahoma State lawsuit against Texas assistant coach Joe Wickline has denied a summary judgment request, meaning the case will go to trial in March.

The decision sets the stage for an intriguing courtroom drama in Stillwater, Okla., home of the Cowboys. Texas coaches Charlie Strong, quarterback coach Shawn Watson and Wickline will be called to testify under oath who really called plays for the Longhorns last season.

If a jury comprised of Payne County residents rule against Wickline, it could be incredibly embarrassing for Strong and the Longhorns. OSU is seeking nearly $600,000 in liquidated damages as spelled out in Wickline’s contract with his former employer.

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“There are genuine issues of material fact that justify a trial,” Judge Stephen Kistler wrote in a court document released Monday. “Neither party is entitled to judgement as a matter of law.”

Both sides were anxious to see how Kistler would handle the summary judgment request from both sides. He could have ruled in favor of Oklahoma State officials, who believe that Wickline made only a lateral move to come to Texas and did not have “play-calling duties.”

Or the judge could have ruled in Wickline’s favor. Wickline and his attorneys have insisted that Wickline did indeed call plays for the Longhorns last season, as required by the buyout provision of his OSU contract.

Kistler had already scheduled a four-day trial to begin on March 8.

Former Texas men’s athletic director Steve Patterson always maintained that this was a case between Wickline and OSU. The University of Texas is not named a party in the suit, and the school is not legally required to do anything.

Still, interim athletic director Mike Perrin has been asked numerous times whether he’ll step in and negotiate a settlement. Perrin insisted he only knew about the case from “what I read in the newspaper.” The longtime Houston-area trial lawyer also declined to criticize the legal strategy.

“I appreciate y’all asking me that,” Perrin said before the UT Men’s Hall of Honor banquet last Friday. “I did Google it after somebody asked me, and what came up was the same type of stuff.”

No word on Nike: Wednesday marks the final day of Texas’ exclusive negotiating period with Nike on a new multi-year contract for apparel and footwear.

On Tuesday, Bloomberg reported that Nike would not sign a new contract with UT before that exclusive window closed. Thus, school officials can now court other bidders, including Under Armour, according to two UT sources.

Early in the negotiations, Nike officials wanted to sign a 20-year contract, one source familiar with the talks said. But Patterson balked and pushed for a 10-year deal worth somewhere between $10-$12 million.

Michigan signed a new deal with Nike last summer worth $169 million over 15 years. It was hailed as the largest apparel deal in college sports. Texas, which sells more merchandise than any anyone else, should command a larger package.

Words from KD: Former Texas basketball star Kevin Durant spent last Saturday on the UT sideline. On Tuesday, he celebrated his 27th birthday and started his ninth NBA season with the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Asked if he had any words for encouragement for the Horns, Durant shot a stern look at one reporter. “That’s a low blow, man,” Durant said, drawing a room full of laughs.

“I’m a fan no matter what,” he added. “I’m expecting a better week next week. Even if they don’t have a good week, I’m still going to be a major fan.”

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