Report: Ex-St. John’s Coach Suing for Significant Damages After He Was Fired, Replaced by Rick Pitino
Former St. John’s men’s basketball coach Mike Anderson is seeking more than $45 million from the school, claiming that it wrongly fired him for cause to avoid paying his contract buyout and used that saved money to hire his replacement, Rick Pitino, according to ESPN’s Myron Medcalf.
Anderson’s lawyer, Michael J. Keane, filed a notice of intention to arbitrate in April, saying that Anderson sought the remaining $11.4 million that was still on his contract and an additional $34.2 million in punitive damages.
Anderson was fired March 10 shortly after completing his fourth season with the program. The Red Storm went 18–15 last season, with a 7–13 mark in the Big East.
Shortly after Anderson’s dismissal, ESPN reported that St. John’s fired him for a number of reasons, including failing to encourage athletes to meet the school’s academic standards, improperly supervising his assistants and not conducting himself in a way “that reflected positively on St. John’s University.”
“St. John’s manufactured out of whole cloth its preposterous ‘for cause’ termination of Mr. Anderson’s employment with the sole purpose of attempting to extricate the university from its $11.4 million ironclad contractual obligation to Mr. Anderson,” the filing by Anderson’s representative read. “Specifically so that it could otherwise divert those funds to Pitino.”
Anderson also claims that the school falsely accused him of dealing with cognitive issues, with St. John’s citing a “hostile” phone call with Anderson during which he seemed “about gone” mentally, Medcalf reports. Anderson also disagreed with claims that his team had struggles academically.
Anderson asserted that St. John’s was already in negotiations with Pitino when the school fired him. Pitino was officially hired March 20.