MACOMB, Ill. (WGEM) -- For all Western Illinois University ex-football coach Don Patterson accomplished during his decade-long tenure at WIU, Patterson says it was swiftly wiped away following a late September meeting with Tim VanAlstine, WIU athletic director, and Garry Johnson, WIU vice-president for student services.
A few hours after that meeting, a press release was issued claiming Patterson, who was diagnosed in September 2008 with tonsillar cancer, had stepped down for health reasons. (See 'Don Patterson steps down as WIU football coach') The release included quotes from Patterson which his agent, Barry Nadler, said was complete fabrication. (See 'Sources: WIU's Patterson did not voluntarily step down')
"When the university President was informed that false information was released to the public, nothing happened," Nadler said. "There was no consequences to the athletic director that we know about, and the fraud upon the public was just continued."
Three months later, Patterson's representatives are not sitting back and waiting for the next move. Monday, they filed an administrative notice with Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan's office in a preemptive move to begin a lawsuit against Western Illinois University.
Patterson's lead attorney, Frank Harty told WGEM Sports they plan to file a motion with Western Illinois University in the coming days in an attempt to reinstate Patterson as head coach.
"I was pretty disappointed with the way they handled the situation," Ed Roberts, a defensive back for the Leathernecks, said. "I understand it's a business and all, and I've seen coaches at other schools get fired midway through the season but I felt if that's the way they felt the route they needed to go, they should have been upfront with him."
In an exclusive to WGEM Sports, we received a four-page letter that was written by Patterson and hand delivered to WIU President Al Goldfarb detailing the events that transpired the day Patterson was fired. (Click here to read the four-page letter written by Patterson)
It includes claims of VanAlstine telling Patterson that the captains asked offensive coordinator Mark Hendrickson for a meeting with athletic officials to discuss a coaching change. Patterson says when he consulted with his long-time assistant about that alleged meeting, Hendrickson denied it ever took place.
"From a player perspective you always have your coach's back," senior fullback Sam Dancer claimed. "No matter if you go 10-1 or 1-10, whatever your record is, you always have your coaches back, we loved Coach P."
"I feel like they were just trying to cover it up and were trying to make light of the story because they know Coach Patterson is well-liked in the community," Roberts said.
The saga has critically hampered the former leader of the Leathernecks, who was just two wins away from becoming the program's all-time winningest head coach, from getting another job. Patterson led the Leathernecks to three NCAA playoff appearances and a No. 1 national ranking during his coaching tenure.
Patterson's representatives say they are getting little feedback from the university in their attempts to refute the notion Patterson is too sick to coach.
"I think, in the 25 years of practicing law, I have never seen an employee treated in such an atrocious and outrageous manner," Nadler said.
As far as what the university is saying, at this point it's not much. Western Illinois University attorney Heidi Benson told WGEM Sports last week Patterson remains employed by the school and is still getting paid. She refused any further comment.
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