Lawsuit alleges 'improper methods' by Kiffin in hiring away Titans' assistant

Monday, July 26, 2010 at 9:36pm

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.

6 Comments on this post:

By: dargent7 on 7/27/10 at 6:02

Wait a minute. What about this Pola's ethics taking a new job with USC when he's under contract with the Titans? What does that say about his character? He jumped ship, but so did Kiffin.

By: jwk6179 on 7/27/10 at 7:19

Why wasn't Kennedy Pola named in this lawsuit? He is the ONE WHO BREACHED HIS CONTRACT! He is the ONE WHO ACCEPTED THE JOB WITHOUT CONSULTING THE TITANS OR JEFF FISHER! He is the ONE UNDER CONTRACT WITH THE TITANS! It's very SUSPICIOUS that Lane Kiffin and USC are named in the lawsuir, but Kennedy Pola isn't, when he is just as GUILTY and AT FAULT as Kiffin and USC are.

By: knilob on 7/27/10 at 7:26

I'm starting to think Al Davis was right about Kiffy-kins. At the time, Davis just seemed like a bitter old man, but his words are starting to ring true given Kiffin's actions up to this point.

By: TakePrideInNash on 7/27/10 at 7:49

I don't know much about the situation but fisher may not want to sue one of his coaches, right or wrong, in fear it could hurt his hiring of assistant coaches in the future.

By: jwk6179 on 7/27/10 at 7:53

I'm starting to think Al Davis was right about Kiffy-kins. At the time, Davis just seemed like a bitter old man, but his words are starting to ring true given Kiffin's actions up to this point.

You're late with this statement! THE MAJORITY OF TENNESSEE VOLS were stating that fact with-in HOURS AFTER Lane Kiffin left the Vols for USC!!!

By: Loretta Bridge on 7/27/10 at 10:01

It is not clear but Pola could have been told that they had talked to the Titan's people and they were cleared to talk with him. At any rate Pola walking out on his contract makes him just as much of a jerk as Kiffin. They deserve to work with each other. I don't think it will be hard for Fisher and the Titans to find other coaches because they will not get sued if they comply with with they say they will do. If you break a contract in most companies they will come after you. BOTTOM LINE if I were Kiffin or Pola I would not want to cross the Tennessee state line for any reason.