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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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12th Man Foundation sued for breach of contract

A+lawsuit+filed+by+15+Aggie+donors+against+the+12th+Man+Foundation+alleges+that+promises+made+when+they+made+their+contributions+are+not+being+upheld+following+Kyle+Field+renovations.%26%23160%3B%26%23160%3B
Photo by Cassie Stricker

A lawsuit filed by 15 Aggie donors against the 12th Man Foundation alleges that promises made when they made their contributions are not being upheld following Kyle Field renovations.  

A group of former students has filed a class-action lawsuit against the 12th Man Foundation in Newton County claiming a breach of contract.
The suit, filed on Dec. 28, 2017, argues the donors are no longer receiving the gameday parking and seating accommodations they were promised when they made their contributions.
Fifteen donors filed the suit, spearheaded by plaintiff Nathan Hines, Class of 1980, and lists 28 foundation trustees as defendants. The plaintiffs assert that from the late 1970s through the mid-1990s, the foundation promised the donors that their contributions entitled them to the best available parking and seating locations. These agreements were considered “handshake deals” until the early 1990s, when the foundation began putting these new agreements in writing.
The plaintiffs allege the foundation has denied the privileges promised to them years ago. The donors’ main issues with the foundation’s actions are outlined in the lawsuit.
“The foundation has breached, and continues to breach, its agreements with the Endowment Owners by no longer providing the ‘best available’ home and away game seat locations, tickets and best available home game-day parking locations,” the suit said.
The donors are being represented by Bill Cobb of Cobb & Counsel, Scott McQuarrie of the McQuarrie Law Office and Blair Bisbey of Seale, Stover & Bisbey. On Jan. 2, Cobb & Counsel released a statement describing their clients’ dilemma with the foundation.
“The 12th Man Foundation concluded that reselling parking and renovating Kyle Field would be ‘an opportunity to earn more revenue,’” the statement said. “Choosing money over integrity, the 12th Man Foundation reneged on several of its promises and resold the Permanently Endowed Scholarship owners’ parking and seat locations to the highest bidders.”
Following a similar suit filed in March 2015, Mark Riordan, then vice president of marketing and communications for the foundation, told the AP the foundation was making attempts to further accommodate the desires of endowment donors.
“The seat holders have been given the ability to select seats before anybody else and in an area that is not going to cost them any more money,” Riordan told the AP.
In 2004, an executive committee was created by the foundation in order to increase fundraising and explore increased revenue opportunities. The lawsuit describes the initial dispute between the donors and the committee that represented the foundation.
“[The committee] focused initially on parking, and realized that it could make more money reselling parking locations near Kyle Field on game days,” the suit said. “From that point forward, the foundation began to chip away at the benefits it had promised to the Endowment Owners.”
A statement from the executive committee in 2004 identified parking at Kyle Field as a valuable game-day commodity and it is important to the foundation as a fundraiser.
The suing parties attempted to resolve their issues with the foundation without legal action, but were unsuccessful after their efforts were ignored, according to McQuarrie and Cobb, who described the plaintiffs’ efforts in the released statement.
“If the 12th Man Foundation had just acted with integrity, keeping its promises, this lawsuit wouldn’t have been necessary,” Cobb said.
Since 2011, more than a dozen lawsuits have been filed against the 12th Man Foundation for similar reasons, according to the Houston Chronicle. Cobb & Counsel related the case to the Aggie core values in a series of answers to frequently asked questions regarding the case.
“At the intersection of money and morality, a strong moral compass is required…” Cobb & Counsel said in the FAQ. “The foundation’s refusal to honor promises to faithful Aggies is wrong and contrary to Aggie core values.”
The 12th Man Foundation was not available to speak with Battalion reporters regarding the case.

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