MONTGOMERY, Ala. — Testimony is complete in the dispute between Alabama State University and its former athletics director Stacy Danley.
But a ruling will not come before April, after the two sides file their final briefs with the state circuit court judge handling the case.
The case, which involves a wrongful termination claim by Danley and a countersuit by the university, revolves around Danley’s relationship with retired ASU administrator and state lawmaker John Knight of Montgomery.
Danley’s initial lawsuit alleges that he was fired in December 2012 after he did not arrange a job for Knight’s daughter. Knight denies those claims, and the university alleges in turn that Danley abused ASU’s expense reimbursement system, among other allegations of mismanagement.
The Montgomery Advertiser reports that Danley testified for six hours on Thursday and returned to the stand again Friday.
Danley told the court that Knight asked him over lunch to secure a job for Tammy Knight-Fleming at a marketing firm that contracted with the athletics department. At the time, the elder Knight served as ASU’s executive vice president, making him Danley’s direct superior.
Danley said he talked with GSP Consulting’s chief executive and reported back to John Knight that there was no job for his daughter. “The relationship definitely soured after that,” Danley said on the witness stand.
ASU terminated its contract with the firm shortly after that, Danley said.
Earlier in the week, Knight disputed Danley’s characterization of the timeline, asking why he would “need a subordinate to get my daughter a job with a company who had a contract with ASU.”
GSP Consulting, now Innovation Sports Entertainment, separately sued ASU for breach of contract. That suit does not mention Knight or his daughter.
Danley was fired in December 2012 after Knight compiled a report that alleged offenses ranging from insubordination to general mismanagement. Among other things, the university’s countersuit alleges that Danley owes the ASU $67,000 for travel and other expenses that he billed to the school.
On Friday, Danley testified, “Every single charge on there was approved by Dr. Knight.”
Asked about a university policy requiring the ASU president to approve out-of-state travel, Danley replied that he had been told “if I got Dr. Knight’s signature approving the travel, the president would sign off, too.”
ASU also points to a termination hearing in which Troy Massey, now a district judge, upheld 4 out of 10 charges that the university leveled against Danley.
Danley counters that Massey was not a neutral arbiter, citing several reasons: ASU paid Massey $12,000 to serve as the hearing officer; Massey is a former law partner of ASU attorney Kenny Thomas; he owns a suite in Alabama State’s football stadium; and he has previously sold land to the university.
Massey, who was in court for Danley’s testimony, told the Advertiser that his pay was appropriate because Danley’s termination hearing lasted “three days” as opposed to the normal “couple of hours.” He said his business relationship with Thomas was more than two decades old.
The land deal, he said, was a simple choice: Either sell his property adjacent to the university on his own or settle through an eminent domain taking.
Retired Circuit Judge James Reid of Baldwin County will decide the case. Reid has handled the case after several Montgomery-area jurists recused themselves, citing conflicts of interest.