U to appeal Tubby Smith case at Supreme Court

The Minnesota Court of Appeals upheld Hennepin County jury’s decision to award $1 million to Jimmy Williams last month.

Nick Sudheimer

University of Minnesota President Eric Kaler and the Board of Regents will file for an appeal in the Jimmy WilliamsâÄô lawsuit with the Minnesota Supreme Court in the next several days.

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

The Minnesota Court of Appeals upheld Hennepin County juryâÄôs earlier decision last month, mandating the University must pay Jimmy Williams $1 million after Tubby Smith, the school’s head basketball coach, wrongly promised him an assistant coaching job in 2007.

Williams was an assistant coach at Oklahoma State University, when Smith, who was hired to coach at the University in March 2007, contacted Williams to offer him the job in early April of that year. Smith offered Williams a $200,000 per year salary and benefits package.

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

But University athletic director Joel Maturi trumped SmithâÄôs decision and refused to hire Williams, citing WilliamsâÄô previous NCAA violations when he was an assistant couach at the University 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.

âÄúThis amount is clearly excessive,âÄù Rotenberg said. âÄúEven if you assume heâÄôs out two years of income, you donâÄôt get $1 million for that. ThatâÄôs valuable public funds he is getting.âÄù