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Jones

Neal “Buddy” Jones, a former Baylor University Board of Regents chairman, denied allegations on Friday that he influenced current regents in their personnel decisions amid the school’s sexual assault scandal.

Tom Hill, who was fired as an athletics administrator in May, alleges in a lawsuit filed last month in 74th State District Court that Jones had intervened in board decisions. The suit was moved to U.S. District Court this week.

Jones’ Austin-based lawyer, Steve McConnico, said the lawsuit has no support in either the law or the facts and filed a motion to dismiss the suit.

“When Buddy Jones left the Baylor Board of Regents in 2013, he never discussed with any of the remaining regents the topic of Baylor personnel,” McConnico said. “And if he had those discussions — which he did not — those discussions would be protected with free speech.”

Hill’s suit also accuses Philadelphia law firm Pepper Hamilton LLP and two of its lawyers, Leslie M. Gomez and Gina Maisto Smith, of negligence, wrongful intentional conduct, conspiracy and defamation.

Gomez and Smith conducted a nine-month investigation at Baylor that found a “fundamental failure” in the way the university handled sexual assault allegations, regents reported in May. The board fired Ken Starr as president and Art Briles as head football coach. Athletics Director Ian McCaw was sanctioned and placed on probation but resigned days later.

Hill’s petition fails to state a claim against Jones and should be dismissed, McConnico’s motion states. When Jones was added as a defendant to the suit this month, Hill increased his damage claim from $60,000 to $2 million.

“That somehow Buddy Jones is responsible for a 3,000 percent increase in Hill’s damages for conduct that even Hill alleges to be ‘collateral’ to his firing reveals just how hollow Hill’s claims are,” the motion states.

Don Riddle, Hill’s Houston-based lawyer, said Friday afternoon that he had not yet read the entire motion to dismiss.

Hill is now president of the Waco BlueCats, a professional baseball team expected to play its first game in 2018.

Phillip has covered higher education for the Tribune-Herald since November 2015.

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