Former St. John's men's basketball coach Mike Anderson is suing the school for $45.6 million in relation to his recent termination, arbitration documents obtained by ESPN on Thursday (May 11) confirmed.
Anderson is seeking a total payment of $45.6 million from the school, which includes the $11.4 million he was owed on his contract, as well as $34.2 million in "punitive" damages, according to the "notice of intention to arbitrate" filed by his attorney, John Singer, in April. St. John's claimed Anderson was fired with cause in March, which avoided paying buyout, before later hiring long presumed top charing target Rick Pitino as part of a lucrative six-year, $20 million deal.
Anderson's lawsuit states that he coach was fired for what St. John's claimed was "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 university and "failure to appropriately supervise and communicate with your assistant coaches." Anderson claims St. John's officials offered a buyout valued less than the $11.4 million he was owed before he accused of "fictitious" issues within the basketball program, the documents obtained by ESPN state.
"We dispute the allegations being reported in the media and will vigorously defend those claims in arbitration," St. John's University said in a statement obtained by ESPN on Thursday.
Anderson also claims that St John's was already engaged in talks with Pitino -- who was just days removed from coaching his final game at Iona in the first-round of the NCAA Tournament -- on the day he was fired. The veteran coach said he represented the school in a "first class manner" from the time he signed an extension in 2021 to his termination in March.
Anderson went 68-56 (30-46 Big East during four seasons at St. John's, having previously worked as the head coach at Arkansas (2011-19), Missouri (2006-11) and UAB (2002-06).