LSU did not violate former offensive line coach James Cregg's contract when the university fired him earlier this year, the school's attorneys say in a new court filing.

Cregg sued the LSU Board of Supervisors in August for breach of contract stemming from his June termination. He had been the football team's offensive line coach since 2018.

LSU filed its answer to the lawsuit Tuesday, asking state District Judge Wilson Fields to dismiss Cregg's claims.

The filing says LSU "denies that any action taken with respect to termination of Plaintiff's employment was in violation of the Agreement." The university also denies that Cregg sustained any injury. He is seeking damages.

"Plaintiff's alleged damages were caused solely by his own actions and/or inactions and not by any action of the Defendant," lawyers Leo Hamilton, Christine Keenan and Elizabeth Bailly Bloch argue in the filing.

Cregg's lawsuit acknowledged that coach Ed Orgeron provided Cregg a letter June 2 stating LSU's intent to fire him "for cause" because Cregg admitted to an NCAA enforcement official in May to "visiting with and providing gear to a team prospect during the COVID recruiting dead period."

"You also admitted to knowing such contact was impermissible when you engaged in the conduct," the letter stated. "This knowing violation of NCAA rules constitutes cause under ... the Employment Agreement."

The lawsuit says LSU athletic director Scott Woodward provided Cregg a termination letter on June 17, citing the violation of NCAA rules referenced by Orgeron.

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Cregg, however, claims in his lawsuit that the NCAA "has never issued a ruling or decision that Coach Cregg has committed a Level I or Level II violation, or repeated Level III and/or Level IV violations, of the NCAA bylaws such that ... the Employment Agreement could provide a for cause justification for LSU to terminate coach Cregg's employment,"

According to Cregg's most recent contract with LSU, if he is terminated by LSU without cause, the university must pay him the total remaining base salary and supplemental compensation in monthly installments equal to the amount of time remaining in the term.

LSU's answer to the lawsuit does not mention the alleged NCAA violation but says all decisions regarding Cregg's employment relationship with LSU "were made on the basis of legitimate business reasons ..."

The university "acted in good faith and did not violate any provisions of any contract, law, or regulation," the school's court filing adds.

Cregg's attorneys, Christopher Whittington and Robert Campbell, said after the filing of the lawsuit that Cregg "looks forward to working with LSU in the future to bring this matter to a resolution acceptable for everyone involved."

Cregg was entering the final year of his most recent contract with LSU, which was set to pay him about $700,000 starting this year through the contract's expiration on March 31, 2022.

His departure came just over a year after LSU's offensive line was given the Joe Moore Award in the 2019 season for nation's top blocking unit, an award that Cregg mentioned in his lawsuit.

Cregg was replaced by Brad Davis, who came from the University of Arkansas.

Orgeron and LSU have agreed to part ways at the end of the season, less than two years after Orgeron led the school to a national championship with one of the greatest teams in college football history.


Email Joe Gyan Jr. at jgyan@theadvocate.com.