A wrongful termination lawsuit filed by former College of Charleston baseball coach Matt Heath was reopened this week when a judge in the case said that the “landscape has changed” according to a report by the Post & Courier.
Heath filed the lawsuit just days after his June 2017 firing, claiming that he was let go because athletic director Matt Roberts wanted to hire former South Carolina baseball coach and close friend Chad Holbrook.
Defendants said that Heath was fired for cause, after there had been reports of abuse and a “toxic environment” created during Heath’s two-season tenure as head coach.
The sides reached a settlement agreement in October 2018, but Heath’s lawyers sought to reopen the case after a forensic expert unearthed text messages between Holbrook and his father that may have contradicted statements made by Roberts.
U.S. District Judge Richard M. Gergel, in announcing the reopening of the case, also compelled Roberts and Holbrook to hand over their devices and emails to a forensic expert.
Among the recovered text messages is one Holbrook sent to his father on April 24, 2017, which reads: “Don’t say anything but Matt Roberts really wants me to come be his baseball coach at the College of Charleston. I’m thinking about it strongly. Please don’t say anything.” At the time, Holbrook was still employed at South Carolina. He said he sent the text because he didn’t want his father to worry about his financial future after he was forced to resign from South Carolina.
C of C attorneys reportedly objected to the case being reopened, but were overruled when the texts were discovered.
“There looks to be some inconsistencies and the plaintiff may explore this,” the judge said.
The original settlement agreement, which reportedly would’ve paid Heath $166,000, was contingent on a a forensic examination of Roberts’ and Holbrook’s devices.
Heath’s lawyers argued that the investigation into Heath stemming from allegations of his misconduct was “designed for one purpose only, to end Heath’s tenure as head coach in bad faith.”