ANN ARBOR, Mich. - Gary Moeller did not resign, he was fired as Michigan's head football coach, according to a document obtained by the Detroit News and Moeller's attorney.
On May 4, six days after Moeller was arrested for creating a drunken disturbance at a suburban Detroit restaurant, his boss, athletic director Joe Roberson, announced "Gary had made up his mind" to resign, and "I thought it was the right decision."
Earlier that same day, however, Moeller's contract attorney, Deborah Gordon, faxed a confidential document to university lawyer Gloria Hage indicating Moeller was fired at least a day earlier.
"This is to confirm our conversations of yesterday, at which time we discussed the announcement to be made concerning Gary Moeller's departure as Head Football Coach from the University. It is agreed that Mr. Moeller's announced resignation will have no impact on our legal position that this is not voluntary," read Gordon's letter, which was obtained under the Michigan Freedom of Information Act.
There were no documents indicating any opposition on the part of the university to Gordon's statement.
Gordon agreed yesterday that a proper interpretation of the letter is that Moeller was fired - which, she said, was never "really a question." Roberson, Gordon said, has indicated as much indirectly "talking out of both sides of his mouth" in his limited comments since the incident.
Moeller, who was hired June 23 by the Cincinnati Bengals to coach tight ends, couldn't be reached for comment.
In late May, he was fined $409 after pleading no contest to misdemeanor charges of assault and battery and disorderly conduct for the restaurant incident in which a police audiotape captured his profane, weeping, belligerent behavior.
It was the first blot on his career at Michigan, as an assistant and head coach, that spanned more than two decades. As head coach, Moeller had produced consecutive 8-4 seasons - mediocre by Wolverine standards - and had lost Roberson's support.
Although Moeller's contract contained a standard clause saying all its terms would be nullified if the coach were to be fired "for cause," Roberson decided to give Moeller a severance package of nearly $400,000.
Last week, the university announced that Moeller would receive a settlement including $341,250 in salary he would have earned in the remaining 2 1/2 years of his contract, along with other disbursements.
The university's general counsel, Elsa Cole, said at the time that the action was taken "because Joe Roberson wanted to give (Moeller) recognition."
Roberson wouldn't comment on the matter.