NCAAB: Fired coach Mike Anderson suing St. John’s for $46M

Former St. John’s men’s basketball coach Mike Anderson is seeking nearly $46 million from the school, alleging he was fired for “fictitious” reasons so the program could avoid paying his buyout and hire Rick Pitino.

Anderson is seeking the $11.4 million that was remaining on his contract and $34.2 million in punitive damages, according to arbitration documents obtained by ESPN on Thursday.

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St. John’s fired Anderson on March 10 after an 18-15 season. Ten days later, the school lured Pitino away from Iona with a reported six-year, $20 million contract.

According to his termination letter obtained by ESPN, the 63-year-old Anderson was dismissed for “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 called the supposed problems in his program “fictitious” and insisted he should not have been fired for cause, according to the documents obtained by ESPN.

“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, specifically so that it could otherwise divert those funds to Pitino,” reads the legal filing made by Anderson’s representative.

Anderson was 68-56 (30-46 Big East) in four seasons with the Red Storm and did not reach the NCAA Tournament.

In 21 seasons as a head coach at UAB, Missouri, Arkansas and St. John’s, he has a 437-256 career record.

–Field Level Media

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