The Tennessee Titans changed their view Monday on the loss of their running backs coach. First deemed unethical, they since have deemed it illegal.
The National Football League franchise filed a lawsuit in Davidson County Chancery Court against the University of Southern California and head football coach Lane Kiffin, which alleged “improper means in their procurement” of Kennedy Pola, who was hired by Kiffin to be USC’s offensive coordinator.
On Saturday, Titans’ coach Jeff Fisher said in a published report that Kiffin violated professional protocol when he offered Pola a job without having notified Fisher first. Two days later in its filing, the franchise detailed a series of what it considered to be other, specific breaches most notably the contract Pola signed when he was hired in January.
The contract took effect Feb. 1 and was to run until Feb. 14, 2011. It included a clause, which stated he would “not under any circumstance solicit discussions or entertain employment with any other person or entity … unless You are given written permission to do so.”
The lawsuit claimed that “Pola was not given express written consent by Tennessee Football or the Commissioner of the NFL to entertain employment with any other entity.”
The team seeks, among other things, “punitive damages in an amount to be proven at trial,” attorneys fees and costs and other “relief” deemed appropriate by the court.
Franchise officials declined comment.
The lawsuit alleges that “Kiffin and USC’s actions involving Tennessee football were intentional, without legal justification, and were part of a course and pattern of conduct fostered by Kiffin and USC to use improper methods and means to the direct harm and damage of parties to contracts to interfere with existing contracts and induce the breach thereof, … “
The Titans even cited Kiffin’s departure from the University of Tennessee after one season as head coach there as part of that pattern.
Pola, a former assistant at USC (2000-03), was hired after having spent the last five seasons as runnings backs coach with the Jacksonville Jaguars. He replaced Earnest Byner, who was not retained after two seasons with the Titans.
The law firm of Waller Lansden Dortch & Davis, LLP filed suit on behalf of the Titans.