Former St. John’s University (“St. John’s” or “university”) men’s basketball coach, Mike Anderson, is suing the university for $45.6 million, alleging that the university fired him on false grounds. Specifically, he is suing for $11.4 million for the amount remaining on his deal before his termination and $34.2 million in punitive damages.
Anderson alleges that St. John’s fired him for cause in March 2023 so it could avoid paying him a buyout and use the money towards hiring Hall of Fame coach Rick Pitino. Just 10 days after firing Anderson, the university hired Pitino, allegedly giving him a six-year $20 million contract.
Last month, Anderson filed a notice of intention to arbitrate, stating that the university offered him a buyout worth less than the $11.4 million left on his contract and created “fictitious” violations against him so he could be fired for cause.
St. John’s Reasons for Termination
The termination letter allegedly accused Anderson of “failure to create and support an environment that strongly encourages student-athletes who are in the men’s basketball program to meet all university academic requirements,” “failure to perform your duties and responsibilities in a manner that reflected positively on St. John’s University … in actions [that] brought serious discredit” to the school and “failure to appropriately supervise and communicate with your assistant coaches.”
Anderson refutes allegations of players not reaching academic standards during his time at St. John’s, noting that the university won the Big East academic excellence award for the first time ever in 2020. He acknowledged that while grades dropped following the COVID-19 pandemic, he denied it had an impact on the program’s Academic Progress Rate.
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