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LHSAA hit with lawsuit in Calcasieu Parish

Last Modified: Monday, November 12, 2012 9:35 PM

By Johnathan Manning / American Press

A company managed by a former Louisiana High School Athletic Association employee is asking for more than $400,000 from the LHSAA, claiming breach of contract.

Varsity Events Management was brought on board by the LHSAA in June 2011 to manage championship events. The company is run by Mary Ann Tice and Rob Owens, a former LHSAA employee.

Varsity and the LHSAA parted ways in December 2011, but disagree on whether it was both parties’ decision to do so.

Varsity filed a lawsuit in Calcasieu Parish seeking compensation of $435,601.12.

In a court filing, the LHSAA claimed the contract was not legal and that the sides agreed to terminate the deal during a meeting between LHSAA Executive Director Kenny Henderson and Tice on Dec. 16, 2011.

“Both sides had concerns about how things were going and both sides felt it would be in their best interests to terminate the contract,” said Brad Lewis, a Bogalusa attorney representing the LHSAA.

Adam Johnson, a local attorney representing Varsity, said his client “absolutely” did not agree to end the contract.

“We did not agree to a mutual release of the contract and would never agree do so,” Johnson said. “We made this clear through our actions, our correspondence and our refusal to sign a mutual release following the meeting. There is literally no evidence to support the LHSAA’s assertion that the contract was mutually terminated, beyond Kenny Henderson’s self-serving testimony.”

Henderson said he could not comment on the case.

The Baton Rouge Advocate in January quoted Henderson as saying, “basically at this point we are in the negotiation process to do away with the contract. In my opinion, it was not reaching the goals that were set forth.”

Johnson said Judge Ron Ware awarded the LHSAA a jury trial, but also agreed to allow Varsity to continue with the arbitration process.

Lewis said that no trial date has been set yet and the next step in the case is discovery.

According to a copy of the services contract, beginning June 24, 2011, the LHSAA was to pay Varsity an annual retainer fee of $90,000, payable in an annual down payment of $36,000 and monthly installments of $4,500.

The LHSAA was also to pay a management fee for each of the championship events — a total of $158,000 that ranged from $1,000 for indoor track and field, bowling and gymnastics to $30,000 for football.

The contracts was for two years, according to court filings.

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