Court of Appeals of Indiana

Ex-coach and Vincennes University to argue contract dispute before Court of Appeals.

Vincennes University appeals jury award in favor of fired basketball coach.

The Court of Appeals will hear oral argument on Tuesday, March 26 at 11:00 a.m., in Wesemann Hall, in a case between Vincennes University and its former men’s basketball coach, Dan Sparks. The university is appealing a 2012 Knox County jury verdict and $230,000 damage award to Sparks for breach of contract.

A panel of Judges Melissa S. May, Terry A. Crone and Cale J. Bradford will conduct the argument at 11 a.m. CDT in Wesemann Hall, Valparaiso University Law School, Valparaiso.

Reporters, including student journalists, may ask the court’s permission to video or photograph the oral argument. Requests must be faxed to Court Administrator Steve Lancaster (317-233-4627) at least 48 hours before the scheduled start of the argument. Per Indiana Supreme Court order, all cameras must be tripod mounted and cannot employ flash or strobe lighting. All recording is limited to the oral argument itself; no recording will be allowed during a short Q/A between the judges and audience that will follow the argument.

About this case: After an investigation into falsified information on a basketball recruit’s university application, Sparks agreed that in lieu of facing disciplinary proceedings, he would forfeit his tenure and his position as athletic director, and be subject to a “zero tolerance policy.” The university continued to employ Sparks for the 2003-2004 academic year, but then notified him that his contract would not be renewed for the following year. Sparks sued, contending that the university had to continue to employ him as long as he did not violate the zero tolerance policy. The trial court denied both parties’ motions for summary judgment, and a jury ultimately returned a verdict in Sparks’ favor. On appeal, the university argues, alternatively, that the trial court should have granted its motions for summary judgment and a directed verdict, and that the evidence was insufficient to support the verdict.

The Court of Appeals hears oral arguments across Indiana to enable Hoosiers to observe the court in action and learn more about its indispensable role in Indiana government. This will be the court’s 360th “Appeals on Wheels” event since the court’s 2000-2001 centennial.

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