Former St. John's coach Mike Anderson is seeking $45.6 million from after he says he was fired without cause in March, Anderson's lawyer told ESPN. Anderson claims St. John's avoided paying his buyout, then used the money to hire former Iona and Louisville coach Rick Pitino.
After Anderson won Big East Coach of the Year in 2021, he was rewarded with a six-year contract extension that lasted through the 2026-27 season. He is seeking the $11.4 million that remained on his contract and an additional $34.2 million for "punitive damages", according to documents obtained by ESPN.
"I vehemently disagree with the university's decision to terminate my contract for cause," Anderson said in March. "The for cause accusation is wholly without merit and I will be aggressively defending my contractual rights through an arbitration process."
In his four-year tenure with the Red Storm, Anderson posted a 68-56 record. St. John's did not reach the NCAA Tournament or NIT during that time.
According to St. John's, 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."
Anderson claims St. John's was already in advanced talks to hire Pitino when he was fired on March 10. Pitino was hired 10 days later and signed a six-year deal and worth around $20 million,.
In his three seasons at Iona Pitino went 64-22 and helped the Gaels reach the NCAA Tournament twice. His unofficial record in college basketball as a head coach is 834-239, but 123 wins were vacated during the time he spent at Louisville.