Titans, USC announce settlement in Pola hiring lawsuit

The Tennessee Titans say they have settled their lawsuit with the University of Southern California, filed after Trojans coach Lane Kiffin hired an assistant coach away from the NFL team just before training camp opened last July.

The Titans and USC announced Wednesday in a joint statement that settlement terms are private but called it an "amicable" resolution. The lawsuit is expected to be dismissed in a few weeks.

Tennessee Football Inc., which owns the Titans, sued July 26, a couple of days after Kiffin poached running backs coach Kennedy Pola off the Titans' staff to become his offensive coordinator one week before Tennessee opened camp.

Then-Titans coach Jeff Fisher had hired Pola, a former USC fullback and assistant coach, away from the Jacksonville Jaguars in January 2010, and he was angry that Kiffin had contacted Pola without making the customary courtesy call to alert the team of his intentions. Pola's contract, the Titans said, required written permission from them to discuss a job with another team.

Fisher, also a former USC player, accused Kiffin of a "lack of professionalism" when USC announced Pola's hiring, and the lawsuit, filed in Davidson County Chancery Court in Nashville, Tenn., charged that "USC and Kiffin maliciously intended to -- and did -- induce Pola to breach the Pola contract.

"USC and Kiffin engaged in improper means in their procurement of the breach and were not legally justified in their actions. Kiffin and USC's actions, through him, were part of a course and pattern of conduct fostered by Kiffin and USC to use improper methods and means to the direct harm and damage of parties to contracts ..."

Kiffin said the day after the suit was filed that Pola's hiring "was done no differently than any we did at SC or Tennessee. I didn't anticipate this. No one would have."

Pola, who had been running backs and special teams coach at USC from 2000 to 2003, told the Tennessean that the lawsuit "caught me off-guard" and that Fisher had wished him good luck in the new job.

"I thought everything was cool," Pola said. "Then I got a call a little while later from (a friend) saying, 'Hey, you're being sued.' I wouldn't blame Jeff for being mad because of the timing of this. It's terrible. But it wasn't that Lane was trying to recruit me or prematurely do something. ... I'd planned on being (with the Titans), and everything happened so fast."

Pola's departure forced Fisher to reconfigure his staff, with Craig Johnson becoming assistant head coach/running backs and two other promotions, en route to a 6-10 campaign. Fisher and the team parted ways in January.

USC -- in the first year of a two-year bowl ban among sanctions following an NCAA investigation into the Trojans' football and men's basketball programs -- went 8-5 last season, 5-4 in the Pacific-10 Conference.

The joint announcement Wednesday said the settlement includes "opportunities for both parties to avoid future disagreements and disputes over employment of persons who are already employed by either party" and that the Titans and USC "have restored their long-time mutual relationship."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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