An attorney for football coach Frank Kush told a Maricopa County Superior Court jury today that a $2.2 million damage suit by a former player was filed in an effort to get Kush fired.
Warren Platt, in his opening statement on the suit brought by Kevin Rutledge, said Rutledge's father, Gordon, and drag strip operator Rick Lynch "were bound and determined that Frank Kush was going to be fired by Arizona State University."
Rutledge filed the suit against Kush, claiming the coach punched him in the face and verbally abused him after his last punt in a game at the University of Washington on Oct. 28, 1978. Kush was dismissed in the middle of the 1979 season after Fred Miller, then the school's athletic director, accused Kush of covering up the alleged punching incident. Kush has since been hired by Hamilton of the Canadian Football League.
"He (Kush) grabbed him (Rutledge) by the face mask, shook him from side to side and slugged him in the mouth," Robert Hing, Rutledge's attorney, told the jury.Rutledge was not seriously injured by the punch, Hing said, but "the mental suffering and humiliation was something else again."
The suit seeks damages from Kush, Bill Maskill, a former assistant coach, ASU President John Schwada, ASU Vice President George Hamm and the state Board of Regents. Hing told the jury Rutledge was entitled to damages because of the punching incident, breach of contract (his scholarship), misrepresentation when he was offered a scholarship and negligence on the part of Hamm and Schwada for not controlling Kush and Maskill.
Hing said after the Washington game, Kush told Rutledge in the locker room, "Rutledge, why don't you stick your head in a bucket of water and drown yourself."
Following the Washington game, Hing said Rutledge no longer was allowed to practice with the main body of the team, did not play in the final four regular season games and punted in the Garden State Bowl only because ASU's other punter was injured.
Hing said Kush and Maskill "made it clear to him (Rutledge) that they didn't want him around" and that Kush asked him once, "Why don't you quit?'"