by Geoff Rushton
Former Penn State defensive coordinator Bob Shoop on Thursday responded to a breach of contract lawsuit by Penn State, filing a counterclaim that says he experienced “intolerable” working conditions that effectively forced him to leave the university.
The university’s lawsuit seeks nearly $900,000 the school says he owes for leaving the Nittany Lion football program before his contract ended to take the defensive coordinator position at the University of Tennessee in January 2016. According to Penn State’s complaint, a buyout clause required Shoop to pay liquidated damages of 50 percent of his $850,000 annual base salary for each year remaining if he resigned before his contract ended.
Penn State attorneys wrote that Shoop indicated he would not pay the $891,856 they claim he owes.
In a new filing in U.S. Middle District Court, Shoop’s attorneys agreed that he is refusing to pay and gave 16 reasons why he shouldn’t and the lawsuit should be dismissed. They said his employment contract with Penn State is “unenforceable,” “unreasonable,” “constitutes a penalty” against Shoop, and was signed “under duress.”
The response further says that Shoop acted in good faith and that Penn State “forced or compelled” him to leave.
“Mr. Shoop’s working conditions with Penn State were intolerable, thereby forcing Mr. Shoop to leave his employment with Penn State,” the filing stated.
In his counterclaim, Shoop says it was Penn State that breached the contract and that by effectively forcing him to leave he was terminated without cause. He is seeking at least $75,000 in damages.
Shoop came to Penn State with head coach James Franklin in 2014 and in March 2015 signed a new employment contract that covered the period of Jan. 8, 2015 to Feb. 15, 2018.
He claims that he was “forced to sign the employment contract” and that soon after his “working conditions became intolerable.”
“Mr. Shoop experienced a hostile, negative working environment,” his attorneys wrote.
The filing does not further elaborate on how he was forced to sign the contract or how he experienced a hostile working environment.
Shoop remains as Tennessee’s defensive coordinator. According to a memorandum of understanding included in court filings, his annual base pay is $245,000 with supplemental pay of $905,000. The agreement states that he is responsible solely responsible for satisfying any buyout clauses with Penn State.