John Chavis lawsuit against LSU sent, at least for now, to federal court _lowres

Advocate staff photo by BILL FEIG -- Former LSU, and now current Texas A&M defensive coordinator John Chavis.

LSU wants the case against it moved from John Chavis’ new backyard.

Chavis’ lawsuit against LSU has been moved to federal court, according to documents filed in the 272nd District Court in Brazos County, Texas.

LSU filed a notice to remove the case from state court last Wednesday. The case will be sent to the United States Court of the Southern District of Texas in Houston unless Chavis counters with a motion for it to remain in Brazos County, where College Station – the home of Texas A&M – resides.

The filing is the latest in a messy divorce between LSU and Chavis, the Tigers’ ex-defensive coordinator, regarding a $400,000 buyout the school says the coach owes. Chavis left the program after six years, joining Southeastern Conference Western Division rival Texas A&M.

LSU contends he owes the buyout for breaking his contract early. Chavis and A&M claim the coach does not owe any buyout.

LSU filed its own suit in the 19th Judicial Court in East Baton Rouge Parish on the same day, Feb. 27, that Chavis filed his in Texas. The school also has filed a motion to dismiss Chavis’ suit on grounds of jurisdiction. LSU is expected to continue to argue that point – that the case should be dismissed – if it is moved to federal court.

A judge will decide if the case is moved to federal court if Chavis files a motion against the move.

There seems to be a disconnect between the two parties – Chavis-A&M and LSU. For instance, in LSU’s latest filing, the school says it reached out to Texas A&M lawyers, who are handling the dispute for Chavis, “to inquire whether A&M would consent to” the move to federal court.

LSU “was told the Texas Attorney General’s office would contact LSU’s counsel.” The school never heard from the attorney general’s office, documents say.

In his original suit, Chavis has asked a judge to decide whether he owes the $400,000 buyout – which A&M would be responsible for according to the agreement the coach and school reached upon his hire. Chavis made $1.3 million in his last three years at LSU, and A&M’s athletic budget was $94 million in 2014, according to USA Today.

The coach also claims that the school owes him more than $205,000 in unpaid incentives and vacation time and that the school unlawfully doctored his 2012 contract, making it void.

LSU served Chavis with a motion of discovery on March 13, seeking answers for Chavis’ involvement with Texas A&M before A&M officially announced his hire Feb. 13. The coach has a deadline of April 15 to respond to the motion.

Follow Ross Dellenger on Twitter @DellengerAdv.