East St. John’s coach Mike Anderson demands $45.6M, claims school fired him only to hire Rick Pitino

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Mike Anderson claims that the same day he was fired, St. John's had already entered advanced talks to hire Rick Pitino to replace him. (AP/Rebecca S. Gratz)

Former St. John's men's coach Mike Anderson is taking legal action against the university after he alleged that he was fired from the school only to avoid paying his buyout and instead used that money to hire current coaches. to hire Rick Pitino. According to ESPN's Myron Medcalf,

Anderson was fired earlier this year after a fourth season at St. John's. The Red Storm had a winning record in all four seasons under Anderson, but never won more than 18 and failed to reach the NCAA Tournament.

Anderson, according to ESPN, 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 his duties and responsibilities in a manner” actions reflected positively on St. John's University … [that] “brought serious disrepute” to the school and “failure to properly supervise and communicate with his assistant coaches.”

The university reportedly tried to offer Anderson a buyout for less than the $11.4 million that was left on his contract. Anderson is now seeking $45.6 million, which includes the amount that was left on his contract and an additional $34.2 million in “punitive” damages, per ESPN.

“St. John's specifically terminated Mr. Anderson's employment from its $11.4 million ironclad contractual obligation from whole cloth to terminate Mr. Anderson's employment with the sole purpose that could be distracting otherwise.” those funds to Pitino,” says the filing by Anderson's representative. via ESPN,

St. John denied Anderson's claims in a brief statement on Thursday.

It said, via ESPN, “We dispute the allegations being reported in the media and will vigorously defend those claims in the arbitration.”

St. John's hired Pitino to a six-year deal on March 20, following the Hall Fame coach's three-year run at Iona. Pitino, who went In the midst of a scandal in both the University of Louisville and college basketball as a whole in 2017, it now returns to the Big East after making Final Four runs with both Louisville and Providence.

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According to Anderson, St. John had already begun advanced talks with Pitino on the day he was fired. In his arbitration documents, Anderson also accused the school of hypocrisy for hiring Pitino after Pitino was fired after Pitino had been “implicated in one highly publicized, sensationalized scandal after another.”