U to appeal $1M Williams decision

President Eric Kaler and the Board of Regents announced Monday they will bring the case to the Minnesota Supreme Court.

Andrew Krammer

Exactly three weeks after the Minnesota Court of Appeals awarded would-be assistant menâÄôs basketball coach Jimmy Williams $1 million for a recanted job offer, the University of Minnesota announced that it will appeal to the Minnesota Supreme Court.

University of Minnesota General Counsel Mark Rotenberg released a statement Monday saying that, if allowed to stand, the $1 million lawsuit against head menâÄôs basketball coach Tubby Smith and the University âÄúhas the potential to harm the University now and in the future.âÄù

Rotenberg said the appeal will be filed to the state Supreme Court âÄúwithin several days,âÄù but will still have to await the courtâÄôs decision on whether to hear the case.

Last month,the Minnesota Court of Appeals upheld a Hennepin County juryâÄôs decision from May 2010 that ordered the University to pay Jimmy Williams $1 million after Smith wrongly promised him a job in 2007.

âÄúThe University needs to be able to hire the right people for the right jobs,âÄù Rotenberg said. âÄúThis individual, who had a history of multiple serious NCAA violations in the basketball program, was not considered the right guy for the job.âÄù

Williams was an assistant coach at Oklahoma State University in the spring of 2007 when Smith, who was hired to coach at Minnesota in March 2007, contacted Williams to offer him a job.

Smith offered him an assistant coaching job in early April of that year with a salary and benefits package worth $200,000 per year.

Williams accepted his offer, put his house up for sale and told then-Oklahoma State head coach Sean Sutton that heâÄôd be leaving the team.

However, University athletic director Joel Maturi trumped SmithâÄôs decision, citing WilliamsâÄô previous NCAA violations when he was an assistant at Minnesota from 1971 to 1986. 

Williams had already formally quit his job at Oklahoma State when he got word of MaturiâÄôs decision and sued Smith and the University.

WilliamsâÄô attorney, Donald Chance Mark Jr., spoke with the Star Tribune but declined further inquiries for comment from the Minnesota Daily.

âÄúI wonder, if for some reason, this has become personal on behalf of the University and its general counsel,âÄù he told the Star Tribune. âÄúIt doesnâÄôt seem to me this case is going to have a long-term adverse effect on the University. If thereâÄôs any short-term harm, itâÄôs a result of the behavior of the University and coach Smith.âÄù