PGA Tour asks judge to dismiss Hank Haney "vendetta" lawsuit, citing Haney's "racist, xenophobic, and sexist comments" led to firing
The PGA Tour has fired back at Hank Haney and his lawsuit, filing a motion with the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida to dismiss Haney's case.
Haney, who was suspended by the Tour and SiriusXM earlier in 2019 for comments deemed racist and sexist on his eponymous radio program, brought a suit against the Tour in December, alleging the Tour harbored a "vendetta" against him. According to the documents, Haney, 64, is seeking damages "for the harm the PGA Tour caused when it improperly intimidated, enticed and threatened Sirius XMRadio, Inc. (SiriusXM) to suspend and ultimately terminate Haney’s radio broadcast on SiriusXM’s PGA Tour Radio station." Haney claims the Tour has "long attempted to disrupt and interfere in Haney’s business," most notably regarding the release of his book, "The Big Miss," a tell-all from Haney's time as Tiger Woods' swing coach.
The Tour has countered these accusations are unfounded.
"Plaintiffs make several statements allegedly documenting PGA Tour's 'vendetta' against Haney originating in 2012," the Tour's attorneys filed in their motion. "Yet, if PGA Tour actually possessed this vendetta as Plaintiffs allege, then it seems inapposite that PGA Tour would not have protested initially and insisted SiriusXM refuse to air his program on PGA Tour Radio when Sirius XM entered into a multi-year contract in 2017 with Haney allowing him to broadcast on PGA Tour's branded radio channel. Accordingly, not only do Plaintiffs not have any support for this unsubstantiated allegation, but the facts belie such an assertion."
The Tour continued that Haney and his legal team could not demonstrate the Tour "unjustifiably interfered with Plaintiffs' business and/or contractual relationship with Sirius XM," or that Sirius XM's move to part with Haney was "based on anything other than [the radio network's] own review of Haney's racist, xenophobic, and sexist comments about the LPGA and its players."
In May, Haney and his co-host Steve Johnson were involved in controversy when they made comments during Haney's show regarding the U.S. Women’s Open. Haney mockingly predicted “a Korean” would win the championship, held that week at the Country Club of Charleston, adding he couldn’t name six players on the LPGA Tour save for those with the last name “Lee.”
Haney also alleges the Tour forced the Golf Channel to discontinue his "Hank Haney Project" TV show on the network and SiriusXM to terminate Haney's business relationship. According to Haney, these actions have cost advertising revenues that "would have amounted to millions" over the life of Haney's agreements. But the Tour argued in a previous motion that Haney is not taking responsibility for his words.
"In sum, Plaintiffs refuse to take ownership of Haney's own ignorant and ill-advised comments and the resulting ramifications therefrom and instead have filed this suit, which is nothing more than an improper fishing expedition to try to deflect blame elsewhere," according to lawyers for the Tour. "Accordingly, this lawsuit should be dismissed with prejudice.
Haney is best known for coaching Woods from 2004 to 2010. He is also a longtime Golf Digest teaching professional.