A wrongful termination lawsuit was filed this week by a former Auburn University employee claiming the school violated Alabama’s Whistleblower Act by denying his rights to free speech and due process when he expressed concern over football ticket practices.
According to AL.com, W. Matthew Davis’ lawsuit claims he worked for the Auburn athletic department’s fundraising arm, Tigers Unlimited, when he learned that “between 3,500 and 3,800” seats in the Tigers Unlimited donor area were being sold at face value, not through Tigers Unlimited. Fans pay a “donation,” typically ranging from about $140 to $3,000, to reserve priority seating, although it was claimed to have been waived. When Davis explained the discrepancy to Auburn athletic chief operating officer David Benedict, he told to “keep his head down and mouth shut,” according to his complaint.
The whistleblower lawsuit continues to say that Davis recommended an audit of all the Tigers Unlimited seating contributions, but the athletic department instead began a probe into an employee leaking information about athletes used in gambling. Court documents show that there was “no evidence” that Davis was involved and “he was somehow the only university employee investigated regarding those allegations.” David found the investigation to be “frivolous.”
“Allegations about athletics tickets have been thoroughly reviewed by internal and external auditors and reviewers,” Auburn University said in a statement to AL.com. “We are confident that athletic ticket sales have been managed in a fair and transparent manner.”
Davis was then suspended from his position as director of Tigers Unlimited in September 2014, but retained an attorney to send a letter to “numerous Auburn officials and board members” about his firing. Those being sued in the whistleblower retaliation lawsuit include Auburn president Dr. Jay Gogue, athletics director Jay Jacobs and Benedict and the Board of Trustees. In his lawsuit, Davis seeks reinstatement to his former position, back-pay as well as other damages.