Former JSU football coach sues for racial discrimination – Jackson Clarion Ledger

Former JSU football coach sues for racial discrimination – Jackson Clarion Ledger

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Harold Jackson isn’t happy with the $65,000 buyout Jackson State paid him after he was fired in October 2015.

Jackson alleged racial discrimination in a lawsuit filed Wednesday in Hinds County Court. The lawsuit, which seeks relief to the tune of $300,000 plus damages, accuses the plaintiffs named in the case – the State College Board, State College Board commissioner Glen Boyce, former JSU president Carolyn Meyers and 10 John Does – of breach of contract and racial discrimination.

The complaint states that “sadly, the IHL has continued its discriminatory practices in the form of extending employment contracts to African American head football coaches with terms that are materially different than those extended to non-African American football head coaches.”

In the lawsuit, Jackson says that over the past four years, the State College Board has extended employment contract terms to white head football coaches that provide those employees with the right to be paid the remainder of the value of their employment contracts in the event that they are terminated without cause. The complaint specifically mentions the contracts of Ole Miss’ Hugh Freeze, Mississippi State’s Dan Mullen, Delta State’s Todd Cooley, and former and current Southern Miss coaches, respectively, Todd Monken and Jay Hopson.

The suit names Meyers as the executor of the State College Board’s contract.

RELATED: Outside voices contributed to Jackson’s dismissal

According to his contract, which was to run through January 2017 before the University terminated it, Jackson had agreed to a $65,000 buyout “or a figure negotiated and agreed upon by both parties if terminated earlier by the university.”

The lawsuit claims Jackson only signed the contract because he understood – and still understands – that clause to mean the State College Board would pay the $65,000 only in the event Jackson was found to be in breach of his contract.

There is no language in Jackson’s contract that would indicate the buyout depended on the nature of his dismissal.

It says Jackson was fired without cause on or about Oct. 6, 2015 after the Tigers went 6-11 in his first 17 games, including a 1-4 start to the 2015 season.

RELATED: JSU’s firing of Jackson was inevitable

Jackson’s base salary was $265,000, plus incentives based on performance, attendance and graduation rates. The $300,000 figure is based on what he would have made over the final 15 months of his contract.

Jackson’s lawyer, John C. Hall Jr. did not immediately return a phone call Thursday, and Jackson State has not commented on the suit.

Contact Tyler Cleveland at 601-961-7371 or tcleveland@gannett.com. Follow him on Twitter.

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