Football settlement

by Ruthie Kelly

CSU settlement with former San Diego State football coach costs $4.57 million

Last month, the California State University system agreed to settle with former San Diego State football coach David Ohton for $2.7 million, according to The San Diego Union-Tribune.

The lawsuit, which was first filed in 2004, created $1.87 million in legal bills, bringing the total cost to the CSU system to $4.57 million.

Ohton filed the suit after he was removed as a coach in 2003 following an internal audit by the CSU, which resulted in criticism of some spending practices in SDSU’s athletics department and the dismissal of then-Athletic Director Rick Bay and three other employees. Ohton said head football coach Tom Craft ostracized and retaliated against him because of his cooperation with the audit.

The extensive legal bills can be attributed in part to the many reversals of the suit, which were thrown out by two separate San Diego Superior Court judges and also appealed to the state Supreme Court.

Ohton’s attorney, Dennis Schoville, said if CSU had settled early it could have avoided paying the fees altogether.

“I fault the decision-makers within the CSU in-house legal department because before this case ever proceeded into litigation, I voluntarily sat down with coach Ohton (and other CSU and SDSU officials),” Schoville said to The Union-Tribune. “All coach Ohton requested was that he be given a simple apology from Craft, indicating they had reconciled their differences, that they were going to move forward for the betterment of student athletes and that he be reinstated as director of strength and conditioning and continue as strength coach for football. Within a few days, we were advised by CSU that those terms were not acceptable.”

Total full-time registration fees and tuition at SDSU cost $5,376 for 2010-2011, making the total cost of the settlement equivalent to a year’s worth of full-time tuition for 850 students.

—Compiled by Editor In Chief Ruthie Kelly