The PGA Tour’s lawyers have asked a federal judge to dismiss golf instructor Hank Haney’s lawsuit, in which he claims the tour pressured SiriusXM Radio to suspend him and then terminate him from hosting his radio show after his comments about women’s golf last year.
In a motion filed to U.S. District Court Judge Rodolfo Ruiz on Friday, the PGA Tour’s lawyers wrote that Haney and his attorneys failed to prove that the Tour “unjustifiably interfered with Plaintiffs’ business and/or contractual relationship with Sirius XM” and failed to prove that the decision to fire him 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 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,” the PGA Tour’s lawyers wrote in an earlier motion to dismiss. “Accordingly, this lawsuit should be dismissed with prejudice.”
Haney, who is best known for working with Tiger Woods, sued the PGA Tour in federal court in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, in December, alleging tortious interference with contract and tortious interference with business relations.
Haney was originally suspended from his radio show in May for what the PGA Tour and SiriusXM said were insensitive comments about women’s golf.
While previewing the 74th U.S. Women’s Open, Haney said, “I’m gonna predict a Korean [to win]. “… That’s gonna be my prediction. I couldn’t name you, like, six players on the LPGA Tour.”
Haney continued: “Nah, maybe I could. Well, I’d go with Lee. If I didn’t have to name a first name, I’d get a bunch of them right.”
After noticing criticism on social media, Haney apologized during the show and later issued a formal apology for his comments, in which he wrote, “[I] made some comments about women’s professional golf and its players that were insensitive and that I regret. In an effort to make a point about the overwhelming success of Korean players on the tour I offended people and I am sorry.”
According to Haney’s lawsuit, the PGA Tour had “long attempted to disrupt and interfere in Haney’s business” after the release of his 2012 book “The Big Miss,” which documented his relationship with Woods, whom he coached from 2004 to 2010. The suit also alleges that the firing cost Haney advertising revenue that “would have amounted to millions of dollars over the life of the agreement.”
According to the PGA Tour’s motion to dismiss, Haney’s contract with SiriusXM was scheduled to expire on Feb. 15, 2021.
“Plaintiffs make several statements allegedly documenting PGA TOUR’s ‘vendetta’ against Haney originating in 2012,” the Tour’s lawyers wrote 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.”