Reggie Witherspoon’s move into an administrative position at Erie Community College remains on hold and could be in jeopardy pending resolution of a contract dispute between the former basketball coach and the University at Buffalo.
Sources say that ECC president Jack Quinn had hoped to name Witherspoon to the position of special assistant in charge of athletics by Aug. 1. However, Witherspoon, an ECC graduate and former Kats basketball coach, has been hesitant to commit to the job given UB’s stance that doing so would relieve the university of its remaining financial obligation to him.
Witherspoon was told by athletic director Danny White after last season that his services were no longer required. Witherspoon declined an opportunity Thursday to comment on the case. He had three years remaining on his UB deal.
People close to Witherspoon and familiar with the situation say the dispute involves language that would appear clear-cut, basically that the university is relieved of its financial obligation only if Witherspoon takes another coaching job. He would not coach basketball or any other sport at ECC but would oversee the athletic department.
James L. Jarvis Jr., associate counsel in the office of the Vice President for Finance and Administration at UB, declined to speak to the conflict saying, “I’m not going to comment on it. That’s a contractual manner. I’m not going to comment on it at all.”
Asked if Witherspoon’s contract language differs from the standard contract involving UB head coaches in revenue-generating sports, Jarvis again said, “I can’t comment.”
Athletic director Danny White said he’s on the periphery of the dispute.
“I know there have been conversations with the university’s attorney and Reggie’s attorney,” he said. “I’m not really at liberty to speak about any detail on it from a personnel standpoint.
“I’m not in those conversations. I do know that their camp initiated the conversation and that’s kind of the extent of my knowledge. I was never called. I’ve never been communicated to on this by Reggie or his attorney or anyone from ECC.”
ECC’s Quinn was traveling Thursday and could not be reached for comment.
In other matters, The UB Alumni Association’s executive committee will meet with White today to discuss changes in the branding of the university’s athletic department that appear, to critics, to downplay the “Buffalo” in the school’s name.
White will address a previously scheduled committee meeting taking place in the Center for Tomorrow on the North Campus, said Larry Zielinski, a past president of the association who will attend the meeting.
Zielinski said he hasn’t heard widespread concerns about the new marketing approach from among members of the association’s larger board of directors, who have their own meeting scheduled for Saturday. He praised the close relationship the association has with the university.
“It’s a coming together and answering questions kind of session, so that we can understand the branding philosophy and strategy and get behind it,” said Zielinski, who teaches in UB’s School of Management.
However, another board member who requested anonymity said there is a feeling of resentment among some board members that the rebranding was fast-tracked without White consulting or informing alumni.
Stephen T. Watson contributed to this report. email: firstname.lastname@example.org