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Part of lawsuit by ex-USC football assistant headed to arbitration

Rick Courtright in 2010 while with the Arizona Cardinals.
Rick Courtright in 2010 while with the Arizona Cardinals.
(Associated Press)

Most of the lawsuit filed last month by a former member of the USC football coaching staff against the school and defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast will be decided by an arbitrator, according to a recent filing in Los Angeles County Superior Court.

Rick Courtright, who worked as USC’s defensive quality control assistant from 2016 to 2018, alleged in the lawsuit he was fired after reporting multiple rules violations to school officials.

Two weeks after filing the lawsuit, Courtright and USC agreed to arbitrate four of his seven claims. The claims headed to arbitration — which will keep proceedings out of public view — include allegations of whistleblower retaliation and unfair business practices.

Like many other employees in USC’s athletic department, Courtright signed a two-page agreement after being hired in which he agreed to arbitrate virtually all claims against the school.

Evan Mobley, a standout at Rancho Christian in Temecula and the consensus No. 1 basketball prospect in the country, has committed to USC.
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Former USC football coach Steve Sarkisian lost in arbitration against the school last year in a dispute over his firing; former USC women’s volleyball coach Mick Haley is scheduled for arbitration later this month in an age discrimination claim.

In Courtright’s lawsuit, USC moved last week to compel arbitration for the three remaining claims — negligence, negligent supervision and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

“Plaintiff’s argument that these claims are outside the arbitration agreement lacks any support,” the USC motion said.

Courtright alleged in the lawsuit that undergraduate students were paid to pose as graduate assistants to take classes for them, that players warmed up before games without proper supervision or protective equipment, and that the use of courtesy cars by graduate assistants may have violated NCAA rules.

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After Courtright reported the concerns to the school, the lawsuit said, colleagues retaliated with a series of incidents that included gluing his mouse to a table, moving his computer and leaving sticky notes around his desk that were filled with obscenities.

Courtright is seeking at least $2 million in damages in his lawsuit.

A hearing on USC’s motion to compel arbitration for the remaining claims is scheduled for Aug. 22.


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