JACKSON, Miss. — Mississippi’s College Board has rejected a proposed settlement of a lawsuit against Jackson State University by a former women’s basketball coach.
The Clarion-Ledger (http://on.thec-l.com/2cX6OeE) reports the board rejected the agreement with Denise Taylor Travis Thursday while meeting in Purvis.
The move could renew legal action in the case. JSU and Travis had agreed to end the dispute, pending approval by the College Board, which governs Mississippi’s eight public universities. Terms of the proposed settlement weren’t disclosed.
Alan Perry of Jackson, a member of the College Board, wouldn’t comment Monday on the board’s action.
In December 2013, a jury ruled in favor of Travis’ claim that the university breached her contract and awarded her $182,000. The jury dismissed her sexual discrimination and retaliation claims. Also, in the same case, U.S. District Court Judge Henry T. Wingate ruled in August 2014 in favor of Taylor’s claim of emotional pain and suffering in her invasion of privacy claim and awarded her $200,000.
JSU had filed a motion seeking a new trial or as an alternative for the court to reduce the $382,000 awarded to Travis. Also, Travis had asked for a new trial on her retaliation claim. Without a settlement, U.S. District Judge Henry T. Wingate could rule on those motions. He heard arguments on those issues earlier this year.
Travis, who used the last name Taylor while at JSU, coached from 2001 to 2011 and led the program to the 2008 SWAC Tournament title. Her contract was renewed in 2010 for four years with her salary set at $91,000 a year. The university fired Taylor in June 2011 after Carolyn Meyers became JSU president.
In court papers, JSU said it officially terminated Travis’ employment pursuant to the “for cause” provision of her contract for breaking reimbursement rules and mistreating students.
Taylor’s attorney, Nick Norris, said in court papers that his client never admitted she misappropriated funds and mistreated athletes. He said Travis’ argument was that she followed JSU’s instructions on how funds were handled, and denied she mistreated athletes. Norris also said the university invaded Travis’ privacy when it disclosed information to The Clarion-Ledger in a public records request.
The Clarion-Ledger found in January that JSU spend about $206,000 in legal fees on the case from 2011 to 2015.
Information from: The Clarion-Ledger, http://www.clarionledger.com