The firing of University of Hawaii Basketball Coach Gib Arnold contains a cautionary tale for personnel manager. Howard Dicus says it is not just a sports story but something that could come up in many workplaces.
Gib Arnold has an at-will contract. UH could release him at any time for any reason, but his contract includes millions in severance pay. UH could avoid paying it by firing him with cause and making it stick.
Often, in cases like this, management must weigh the options. The choice is not necessarily, pay the severance or pay nothing. The choice is sometimes, pay the severance or pay lawyer bills.
In a detailed letter, Arnold says UH officials sat in through the NCAA investigation, knew precisely what the evidence was, and made the decision to pay millions in severance even though the program was itself millions in the hole.
"That," Arnold said, "tells you the University did not have confidence that the allegations will stand up to the evidence."
He does admit one violation but it's one that is both funny and sad. If you read the letter, look for the reference to corn flakes.