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LSU admits in court to changing John Chavis' contract after he signed it

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LSU's legal battle with former defensive coordinator John Chavis waged on in Baton Rouge, but the Tigers aren't looking great after Thursday's developments.

Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

New developments came to light in the trial between LSU and former defensive coordinator John Chavis, and they do not paint a flattering picture of the Tigers' athletic department. The university admitted it altered Chavis' contact, including the buyout clause at the center of his lawsuit, after the assistant coach had already signed the document.

Here's what Chavis' attorney Jill Craft told The Advocate's Ross Dellenger:

It’s exactly what coach has been saying all along, that the contract was altered after he signed it in 2012. You can’t alter a contract and try to claim it’s valid and you certainly can’t sue over it. One of the things they did admit was altered was the buyout provision. In some sense, it’s vindication.

The court will also work to settle the argument over whether Chavis was working for the Aggies while still under contract with LSU. This controversy began when Chavis took a picture at a recruit's home in January 2015 while wearing Texas A&M gear, a visit that took place within the 30-day notice window. State District Judge Timothy Kelley ruled the coach must turn over specific cell phone records covering the span between November 2014 and February 2015 in order to determine just who Chavis was working for, and when.

Chavis and LSU have been tangled in a legal battle since February 2015. The Tigers contend their former assistant failed to properly terminate his contract before taking the defensive coordinator position at Texas A&M, thus triggering a $400,000 buyout penalty for leaving his contract early. Chavis posits since he gave the 30-day notice his contract required before taking the Aggie job he had not breached his agreement with LSU.

If the judge rules the buyout clause had been added without Chavis' knowledge, the Tigers' argument won't hold water. However, that isn't the only thing being debated in Louisiana. Chavis' suit against the Tigers argues that the university owes him more than $200,000 in unpaid vacation and academic performance bonuses, as well as $445,000 in penalty wages. He has also filed a defamation claim against the school.

The case hasn't helped ease tensions between SEC West competitors LSU and Texas A&M, but it did give the Tigers a new venue in which to throw shade at their rivals. LSU's attorneys took aim at the Aggies in a legal filing back in March, specifically singling out A&M's "dire need for defensive help" in the lawyer equivalent of dropping a hot new diss track.

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