David Butler II | USA TODAY Sports

St. John’s is trying to take the cheap route with Mike Anderson.

The former Red Storm coach plans to file an arbitration lawsuit, according to ESPN, after the school fired him for cause in a blatant attempt to not pay the millions in scheduled salary owed him.

From ESPN:

Per his contract, Anderson would have been owed $11 million if he had not been fired for cause, and he believes he was wrongfully terminated.

[A]ccording 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.”

Anderson denies the allegations.

Is there some truth to what the Johnnies claim? It appears so (see below tweets). But this approach never works. It failed with Kevin Ollie and UConn hoops, it failed with former Kansas football coach David Beaty, it has failed at many other places and it will likely fail here. A coach has to do something truly egregious to get fired for cause and have it stick. And even then it does not always work. Half the time schools don’t even bother because they figure the inevitable protracted legal battle will end up costing the same (if not more) in the end.

The likely outcome here: Anderson and St. John’s have their lawyers reach some sort of agreement. The Johnnies shave a few bucks off the bill and move full steam ahead with the anticipated Rick Pitino era. And Anderson gets a lump sum and the chance to double-dip whenever he gets a new job. Which he eventually will get. Anderson is only 63 and he’s never had a losing season. It’s not great that he has not made the NCAA Tournament since 2018, but some program with potential in the Southeast will give him a shot eventually.

That all said: St. John’s should just pay up. Why bother with the negative attention? If you want to be a big boy — and have apparently pledged to Pitino you will become one — then you have to act like one. Which means eating the dumb contracts you hand out.

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James Kratch can be reached at james.kratch@xlmedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @jameskratch.


James Kratch is the managing editor of ESNY. He previously worked as a Rutgers and Giants (and Mike Francesa) beat reporter for NJ Advance Media.