Oklahoma State demands new depositions form Strong, other Longhorns staff
AUSTIN (AP) — Oklahoma State has notified Texas it wants new depositions from Longhorns head coach Charlie Strong, three members of his staff, a quarterback and former athletic director Steve Patterson if a breach-of-contract lawsuit against a Texas assistant proceeds toward trial.
Oklahoma State is suing Longhorns assistant Joe Wickline for nearly $600,000, arguing he made a lateral move to Texas in 2014 and didn’t take a promotion with “play-calling duties” as stated in his previous contract.
Strong was already deposed in March. The pursuit of new testimony from the Texas coach, one of his key players and Patterson, who was forced to resign on Tuesday after less two years on the job, is an aggressive new step by Oklahoma State in an unusual case that has angered Texas fans and pulled back the curtain on the inner workings of a major college football program.
Oklahoma State plays at Texas on Sept. 26.
Oklahoma State attorney Sean Breen told The Associated Press on Thursday night the request for new depositions depends on whether a judge sends the case to trial or it is resolved beforehand.
“The case is going to get resolved one way or another. And perhaps the new fresh air at UT means it can get resolved in a business manner instead of in a courtroom,” Breen said.
Attorneys for Oklahoma State and Wickline appeared in court Thursday, each seeking rulings in their favor to end the case. Oklahoma Associate District Judge Stephen Kistler indicated he would rule in seven to 10 days, but also set a tentative trial date for March 2016.
Oklahoma State notified Texas of the intent for new depositions on Sept. 11. Texas Vice President for Legal Affairs Patti Ohlendorf said she was still reviewing the request and declined comment.
Wickline attorney Guy Clark did not immediately return a telephone message seeking comment.
Strong, Wickline and assistant head coach Shawn Watson all previously testified that Watson and Wickline shared play-calling duties last season.
Oklahoma State had insisted that it was Watson who was really calling the plays, noting that Strong had publicly stated that Watson had the “final voice” over the offense when he hired his staff.
The case took a new turn last week when Strong changed play-callers following Texas’ season-opening loss to Notre Dame, giving the job to Jay Norvell.
Now Oklahoma State wants to talk again with Strong, Watson, Wickline and Norvell “in light of recent developments and statements,” Breen said.
Oklahoma State told Texas it might also want to talk with Texas junior quarterback Tyrone Swoopes, who started 13 consecutive games until he was replaced last week by freshman Jerrod Heard. Also on the notification list assistant athletic director Arthur Johnson, who typically handles assistant coaches’ contracts.
Testimony from Patterson would be another twist, considering he was pushed out after 22 months of clashing with fans and major donors.
Texas has not been named in the lawsuit and Patterson had insisted the school would not get involved. But many Texas fans wanted the school to help Wickline settle the case and prevent Strong from having to testify under oath.
The previous depositions from Strong and his staff exposed a confusing, often chaotic sideline that struggled to calls plays for the Longhorns offense. At one point, Strong even forgot his starting quarterback’s first name.
Patterson was replaced Wednesday by Mike Perrin, a Houston trial attorney who said he had to study up on the lawsuit. The Tulsa World has reported that Wickline rejected a $250,000 settlement offer from Oklahoma State.