St. John’s is trying to lure Rick Pitino to Queens, but the school’s former men’s basketball coach isn’t done with them yet.
Mike Anderson is planning to take St. John’s to arbitratiton after the university fired the coach “for cause” on March 10 after four seasons, a source told The Post’s Zach Braziller.
St. John’s said in Anderson’s termination letter, which was obtained by ESPN, that the 63-year-old failed “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.”
The school also said it was firing Anderson for “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, along with a “failure to appropriately supervise and communicate with your assistant coaches.”
Several sources said the culture under Anderson in recent years had deteriorated significantly. There were repeated disciplinary issues and two players — Rafael Pinzon and Andre Curbelo — were suspended this past season. Last year, point guard Posh Alexander didn’t start multiple games due to disciplinary reasons.
Anderson, who would’ve been owed $11 million if fired without cause, denied the school’s allegations to ESPN.
“I vehemently disagree with the university’s decision to terminate my contract for cause,” Anderson said. “The for cause accusation is wholly without merit and I will be aggressively defending my contractual rights through an arbitration process.”
Former St. John’s assistant coach Steve DeMeo filed a lawsuit against the school in 2021 after he claimed Anderson fired him in June of that year due to a heart problem that required surgery the previous August.
DeMeo’s lawsuit alleged that St. John’s players did not want to play for Anderson, and that was the reason the team passed on playing in the NIT in 2021.
The school and Anderson denied DeMeo’s allegations at the time.
St. John’s higher-ups met with Pitino on Sunday and offered him the job, The Post’s Zach Braziller reported.
Pitino, 70, hasn’t yet made a decision on whether to accept.
He was set to meet with Iona officials and players on Monday, three days after the Gaels were bounced in the first round of the NCAA Tournament by UConn.