Coach Sues University Of Georgia System
MARIETTA, Ga. - A former assistant basketball coach for Georgia Tech claims the president of Kennesaw State University offered him the head coaching position there, then reneged on the offer after he quit his job and uprooted his family.
Kevin Cantwell sued the University System of Georgia's Board of Regents, in Cobb County Court. The Board is the only named defendant, though Kennesaw State President Daniel Papp, whom Cantwell describes as a longtime friend, is at the heart of the complaint.
Cantwell says in his complaint that he began recruiting high school players as soon as Papp told him he had the job, and Papp knew it, and that because he did not get the job after all, all those recruitments were NCAA violations.
Cantwell says he quit a lucrative basketball training and coaching business in North Carolina, and his wife quit her job to, so he could take the job that he believed Papp had offered him.
Papp and Cantwell became friends while working at Georgia Tech, when Cantwell was assistant coach during Bobby Cremmons' reign as head coach, according to the complaint.
The Papps and Cantwells lived next to each other, Cantwell says.
"In fact, at one neighborhood social gathering, Coach Cantwell was explaining to Dr. Papp his philosophy that becoming a successful coach and creating a successful team centers around an emphasis on academics and instilling pride in classroom performance for your players," the complaint states. "After this discussion, Dr. Papp went as far as to tell Coach Cantwell's daughter and future son-in-law 'that is who I want to be my next basketball coach' as Coach Cantwell walked away from the group. This comment was made more than two (2) years before Dr. Papp terminated Coach Ingle's position as head men's basketball coach at KSU and was one of several comments of this kind that Dr. Papp made to third parties prior to February 2011."
After Cantwell and his wife moved to North Carolina, Cantwell says, the KSU team "struggled mightily" during the 2010-11 season. He says he wrote Papp a letter telling him he wanted the coaching job if Papp dismissed the KSU coach at the end of the season.
Cantwell claims that his letter "made clear that he was not advocating for Coach Ingle's dismissal, but that, in the even Coach Ingle was dismissed, Coach Cantwell would appreciate the opportunity to be considered as a candidate for the open position."
The complaint adds: "In his January 28, 2011 letter to Dr. Papp, Coach Cantwell set out a plan to build the KSU program into a perennial contender for the NCAA tournament. In this letter, Coach Cantwell revealed to Dr. Papp the identity of three prominent former Georgia Tech basketball players he planned to hire as assistant coaches. Coach Cantwell had confirmation from former NBA All Star Kenny Anderson and three-year Georgia Tech starter Jon Babul that they would serve as two of his assistants."
Cantwell claims Papp responded one week late and scheduled a meeting in Marietta to discuss the coaching job. At that meeting, Cantwell claims, Papp "immediately declared that he had already decided that Tony Ingle would not be KSU's men's basketball coach after the 2010-11 season. ... According to Dr. Papp, Coach Ingle was being replaced not because of wins and losses, but instead, because of the team's academic failures.