Kent State to pay former football coach $112,000 for contract breach

Richie Mulhall

Sometimes in the courtroom, what goes around comes around.

Nearly four months after a divided state court of appeals upheld a $1.2 million judgment for Kent State against Ford over a breach of contract, Kent State once again entered the courtroom, only this time, the university came out on the losing end of the case.

The 10th District Court of Appeals has awarded former KSU football coach James Fleming $112,000 for a breach of contract by Kent State.

Kent State ordered to pay former football coach $112,000 from on Vimeo.

Fleming was originally hired to be the Flashes’ new defensive coordinator under former head coach Doug Martin and signed a contract back in March of 2010. The deal, worth $71,500 with multiple bonuses, was supposed to last until June 2012, but when Darrell Hazell was hired as the new head football coach in 2011, he did not offer Fleming a position on his staff. Fleming was reassigned to a desk job in the athletic director’s office but rejected the offer, ultimately forcing Kent State to terminate him shortly thereafter in March 2011.

Fleming argued that reassigning him and not offering him a position as defensive coordinator was a breach of contract and filed a suit against the university. In the original case the Ohio Court of Claims heard, Fleming wanted his salary for the remaining two and a half years on his contract, but the court ruled in favor of Kent State.

The court denied the payout because Fleming accepted a new job as the defensive coordinator at the University of Central Florida in December 2011. He is currently the head coach at the University of Rhode Island and posted a 1-11 record this past season, according to

Fleming appealed the case and now, four years after he filed his lawsuit, Kent State is forced to comply with the suit per the court’s ruling.

Fleming was awarded nearly $98,000 for the 16-plus months remaining on his contract plus an additional $13,000 in interest accumulated from February 2011 to present.

Oddly enough, the most ironic thing about the case is that the case the court cited was an earlier one in which Kent State won, according to StateImpact. In his opinion, Court of Claims Judge Patrick M. McGrath wrote, “interestingly, (Kent State) took the opposite position in a case involving a breach of contract by (Kent State’s) former head basketball coach.”

In other words, Kent State successfully sued Ford for a breach of contract by leaving early for Bradley University. Ford, since fired from Bradley earlier this year, now owes Kent State 1.2 million for his departure.

Contrary to this case, Kent State is now on the opposite side of another breach-of-contract case and must pay this time. In Fleming’s appeal, he used the same argument Kent State used in the case with Ford and came out on top.

TV2 reached out to Kent State spokesperson Eric Mansfield for comment, but he was unable to comment due to legal reasons.

Contact Richie Mulhall at [email protected].