Did Coach Gillespie’s attorney sue the wrong party in the wrong state? UK claims no contract existed due to repeated counteroffers by coach.


In the University of Kentucky’s lawsuit filed in response to the contract claim filed by fired UK basketball coach Gillespie, a claim is made that he sued the wrong party.  Gillespie’s lawsuit was filed in a Texas court (??) and named the UK Athletic Association as the defendant.  The University of Kentucky countered with a lawsuit filed in Kentucky and alleged that the real party should be the University of Kentucky and not the Athletic Association, which is only an advisory body.


A UK press release said, “It is unfortunate that Mr. Gillispie has sued the UK Athletics Association, a non-profit supporting foundation that was not his employer, in Federal Court in Texas.  Mr. Gillispie was a University employee, and the volunteer Board of the UKAA serves the university in a valuable but purely advisory capacity.”


The UK lawsuit claims that the Memorandum of Understanding was not a five year contract, and that it should only be applied on a year to year basis, since a final contract was still being negotiated.  The last of some five offers made by the University was met with a counteroffer by Gillespie…hence UK claims no contract was ever reached.

A contract is said to come into existence when acceptance of an offer (agreement to the terms in it) has been communicated to the offeror by the offeree.

The offer and acceptance formula identifies a moment of formation when the parties are of one mind.  Under UK’s claim, the University’s offer was never accepted by Gillispie, since the only response was a counteroffer, and therefore UK’s offer of a five year contract could be withdrawn at any time by UK.

The “mirror image rule” states that if you are to accept an offer, you must accept an offer exactly, without modifications; if you change the offer in any way, this is a counter-offer that kills the original offer.  If the offer is one that leads to a unilateral contract, then unless there was an ancillary contract entered into that guaranteed that the main contract would not be withdrawn, the contract may be revoked at any time.

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