PHOENIX (3TV/CBS5) – Former Grand Canyon University head basketball coach Dan Majerle is taking the university to court over his firing.

He filed a complaint in Maricopa County Superior Court for a contract breach. Majerle claims he had total allegiance to the university, never entertained any other jobs and was fired in bad faith with school president Brian Mueller disparaging Majerle's reputation to at least one recruit.

Dan Majerle

FILE - In this Dec. 9. 2018, file photo, Grand Canyon coach Dan Majerle watches his team play Nevada during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Phoenix. Grand Canyon has fired Majerle after seven seasons. The school announced the former Phoenix Suns star's firing Thursday, March 12, 2020, hours after the Western Athletic Conference and NCAA tournament were canceled due to concerns over the coronavirus. 

"Dan is seeking what is owed to him under his contract with GCU and pursuant to the law. He had hoped it wouldn’t go this way, but was left with no other choice. Dan is simply looking for what’s fair," said Dan Majerle’s attorney Dana Hooper in a statement.

Majerle said he met regularly with Mueller and received only positive reviews. GCU hired "Thunder Dan" as its head coach in March 2013. At the time, Majerle had no experience coaching college ball. The school fired him back in March after seven seasons and a 136-89 record. He had three years left on his contract.

"We have made the decision to move in a new direction with our men's basketball program," Mueller said at the time. "We wish Coach Majerle the best of luck in his future endeavors."

Roughly five days later, GCU hired former Vanderbilt coach Bryce Drew as its next men’s basketball coach. In Majerle's lawsuit, he claims Mueller took at a shot at Majerle in hiring Drew, praising Drew's recruiting ability and how he embodies the Christian mission at GCU, the implication of that mission further disparaging Majerle. Majerle is asking to be paid through 2023 with all his court costs covered. There is no exact amount in the lawsuit.

GCU said in its statement that it found out about the suit from the media.

"We regret that Coach Majerle's tenure had to end the way it did, but the University is prepared to defend itself and its decision if necessary should Coach Majerle decide to continue with litigation," reads the university's statement. "GCU is unable to comment further until such time as it receives a copy of Coach Majerle's complaint and has an opportunity to review his allegations."

The university wouldn't say why officials fired Majerle.

“Out of respect for Coach Majerle, GCU chose not to disclose the reasons behind his dismissal when it occurred in March,” said the GCU Office of Communications regarding Dan Majerle lawsuit.

Majerle played eight of his 14 NBA seasons with the Phoenix Suns and is a member of the team's Ring of Honor. Before becoming GCU's head coach, he was an assistant coach for the Suns. Majerle has a close relationship with former Phoenix Suns owner Jerry Colangelo, who's statue is on the campus at GCU. He declined to comment.

FULL STATEMENT FROM GCU

GCU was surprised to learn through members of the media that former coach Dan Majerle has apparently filed a lawsuit against the University. Rather than serving the University with a copy of his complaint, Coach Majerle appears instead to have provided copies of his complaint to members of the media. The University hired Coach Majerle when he had no prior head coaching experience and no college coaching experience with the greatest hope and belief that he would lead the men's basketball program for 20-plus years. The University financially supported Coach Majerle and the men's basketball program at the highest level during his seven-year tenure and wanted nothing but the best for him and the program. We regret that Coach Majerle's tenure had to end the way it did, but the University is prepared to defend itself and its decision if necessary should Coach Majerle decide to continue with litigation. GCU is unable to comment further until such time as it receives a copy of Coach Majerle's complaint and has an opportunity to review his allegations.

 

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