TCU has until the end of the week to respond to a lawsuit recently filed by an award-winning athlete and former student, according to the Tarrant County District Clerk’s Office.In the lawsuit, Jacob Hernandez alleges TCU violated its own policy by denying his request to transfer to the University of Texas Track and Field program.
Hernandez filed the lawsuit Aug. 2, and TCU, the defendant, has 20 days after the first Monday the lawsuit was filed to respond, according to the clerk’s office.
TCU’s athletics administration officials would not comment on the case because it is a pending litigation.
According to the lawsuit, the first time Hernandez requested to transfer to Texas, he was denied the release because Texas was ranked in the Top 15.
According to the TCU Student-Athlete handbook, a student-athlete is not allowed to transfer to an institution that is ranked in the Top 15 in a sport-specific poll.
Weeks later, Texas dropped from the Top 15, and Hernandez requested to transfer to Texas again. His request was denied for the second time, according to the lawsuit.
Hernandez’s lawyer, Shelby Sharpe, said based on TCU’s “unwritten policy,” only one request is permitted for a university. Texas already made its one request for Hernandez. TCU’s transfer policy does not limit the number of times a student-athlete can request to be released.
According to NCAA rules, a student-athlete can be released from a four-year institution to another four-year institution once, as an exemption.
Marc Evans, TCU’s director of athletics compliance, would not comment on the specified case, but gave a broad example for TCU’s reasoning: If TCU released a student-athlete to a school that was not ranked in the Top 15 and then the next week the same school moved up the polls into the Top 15, TCU would not change the releasing decision.
The university would not reverse its decision to grant Hernandez’s release because its first decision is final, Evans said.
Before filing the lawsuit, Hernandez’s appeal to the University Appeals Committee was denied. Hernandez has made previous requests to be released, but they have also been denied.
Danny Morrison, TCU’s newly appointed athletics director, did not comment on the pending litigation.
“The transfer policy is upfront,” Morrison said. “Every student signs the policy at the first of the year, every year they are here.”
Hernandez, Conference USA’s 2005 Track and Field Freshman Male Athlete of the Year, qualified to compete at the 2005 NCAA Outdoor Championships, but was unable to do so because TCU’s self-imposed sanctions prohibited postseason participation for individuals as well as the team.
According to the lawsuit, Hernandez signed to run track at TCU without being informed of the sanctions. Hernandez later learned of the postseason ban and requested to transfer to another university.
Hernandez recently enrolled at the University of Texas. According to NCAA rules, Hernandez is not allowed to participate in NCAA competition for the 2005-2006 academic year because TCU has not granted him his release.
In the lawsuit, Hernandez is seeking his release from TCU and for the university to pay reasonable and necessary attorney’s fees and costs.
Hernandez could not be reached for comment.