St. John’s is trying to lure Rick Pitino to Queens, but the school’s former men’s basketball coach isn’t quite done yet.
Mike Anderson plans to turn St. John’s over to refereeing after the university fired the coach “for cause” on March 10 after four seasons, a source tells The Post’s Zach Braziller.
In Anderson’s termination letter, which was obtained by ESPN, St. John’s said the 63-year-old failed “to create and support an environment that strongly encourages student-athletes participating in the men’s basketball program to meet all of the university’s academic requirements.”
The school also said it expelled Anderson for your “failure to perform your duties and responsibilities in a manner that reflects positively on St. John’s … in the proceedings.” [that] It brought a terrible reputation” to the university, along with a “failure to supervise and communicate appropriately with assistant coaches.”
Several sources said that the culture under Anderson had deteriorated significantly in recent years. There were frequent disciplinary problems and two players – Rafael Pinzón and André Curbelo – were suspended this past season. Last year, point guard Posh Alexander did not start multiple games for disciplinary reasons.
Anderson, who would have owed $11 million if he had been fired without cause, He denied the school’s allegations to ESPN.
“I strongly oppose the league’s decision to terminate my contract for some reason,” said Anderson. “The charge in cause is completely without merit and I will vigorously defend my contractual rights through the arbitration process.”
Former St. John’s assistant coach Steve DiMeo sued the school in 2021 after claiming Anderson fired him in June of that year due to a heart problem that required surgery last August.
DeMeo’s lawsuit alleged that St. John’s players did not want to play for Anderson, which is why the team had to play in the NIT in 2021.
The school and Anderson denied DeMeo’s allegations at the time.
Senior officials at St. John’s met with Pitino on Sunday and offered him the job, The Washington Post’s Zach Braziler reports.
Pitino, 70, has not yet decided whether to accept it.
He was scheduled to meet Iona officials and players on Monday, three days after the Gaels were bounced in the first round of the NCAA Tournament by UConn.
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