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Mike Anderson to file lawsuit over firing from St. John’s

Will the legal kerfuffle have ramifications on the next hire? Likely not.

NCAA Basketball: St. John at Creighton Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports

Per ESPN, Mike Anderson will file an arbitration lawsuit after St. John’s claims Anderson was fired as head coach of the Red Storm “for cause.”

This is important because it’s the difference between not having to pay a coach anything, and paying up to $11 million — the remaining amount on Anderson’s contract. Anderson had his contract extended in 2021 with a six-year contract after winning the Big East Coach of the Year award.

From the article:

According to the termination letter obtained by ESPN, Anderson was fired 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.”

No evidence of these claims was reported during the season, though disciplinary issues with the guards Rafael Pinzon, Andre Curbelo, and possibly Posh Alexander led to players missing games. Last year, former assistant coach Steve DeMeo initiated a lawsuit against the school for unlawful termination, spilling some tea that a number of players (who later transferred) did not want to play for Anderson in the postseason.

Roster turnover and upset assistants are not foreign for a college basketball program; they only become more of a problem when a school wants to move on from a coach. Even Kevin Ollie, who was considered guilty of the NCAA infractions that gave cause for UConn to fire him, received his severance money, though years later.

It remains to be seen if the school will need to deal with the financial fallout from this issue anytime soon. Whether there is more under the surface or if the reasoning is a flimsy attempt to save money while hiring a well-known coach (such as Rick Pitino), the court system will need time to hear the arguments.

By that time, St. John’s will have a new coach.