Coach who was rejected to sue U

  • Article by: DENNIS BRACKIN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: October 11, 2007 - 11:08 PM

Jimmy Williams quit his job coaching basketball at Oklahoma State, sold his home and got ready to move to Minnesota, thinking he was going to work for new Gophers head coach Tubby Smith. Then he was blocked out.

Jimmy Williams quit his job coaching basketball at Oklahoma State, sold his home and got ready to move to Minnesota, thinking he was going to work for new Gophers head coach Tubby Smith.

But history tripped him up.

Williams was a basketball coach at the University of Minnesota during an embarrassing run of NCAA rules violations in the 1970s and '80s, and the university didn't want him back.

On Thursday, Williams initiated a suit against the university and Athletic Director Joel Maturi. Williams is seeking the assistant coaching position he said he was offered by Smith -- an offer he said was later pulled off the table by Maturi -- and is seeking damages for costs incurred when he quit his job.

The university says it owes Williams nothing.

"Tubby Smith did interview Jimmy Williams, but the two never reached any agreement for Williams to work for the university as an assistant coach," said Mark Rotenberg, university general counsel.

Added Rotenberg: "There was never any employment agreement provided to Williams, nor did the university encourage Williams to leave Oklahoma State and move to Minnesota. And the reason the university never gave Williams an employment contract is that Williams had a prior record of significant NCAA rules violations while working in our basketball program in the 1970s and '80s. Neither Tubby nor Joel could overlook that prior record."

Maturi declined to comment, citing "pending litigation," but several weeks ago told a reporter "there isn't any basis for the lawsuit." University officials denied a request to interview Smith.

Williams and his attorneys held a news conference on Thursday and released copies of the nine-count suit that was served on Maturi. The suit could be filed in Hennepin County District Court as early as today.

Williams, a Gophers assistant coach under head coaches Bill Musselman and Jim Dutcher, said this month that he discussed a position on Smith's staff over four days during the NCAA Final Four tournament last spring in Atlanta. Williams said he and Smith agreed on a contract calling for Williams to receive $175,000 and an additional $25,000 from Smith's basketball camp.

The complaint contends that Maturi overruled the hiring because of the NCAA violations that occurred while Williams was on Musselman's and Dutcher's staffs. Rotenberg said Williams was banned from recruiting for two years because of the seriousness of the violations during Musselman's years as head coach. But Williams' attorney, Dick Hunegs, said that Williams was the only coach kept on by Dutcher, and that the NCAA told Hunegs there were no issues that would prevent a school from hiring Williams.

After leaving Minnesota, Williams worked on university staffs at Tulsa, San Diego State, Nebraska, Oklahoma State and Louisiana-Lafayette, plus in the NBA for the Timberwolves. Hunegs said he was told by the NCAA that Williams' record was clean after he left Minnesota.

The complaint claims that the industry practice is for head college coaches to hire their own staffs. Jim Haney, executive director of the National Association of Basketball Coaches, said a head coach's hiring autonomy probably varies from school to school.

According to Williams, Smith asked him on April 2 to start work immediately. Williams said he called Oklahoma State coach Sean Sutton late April 2 and wrote a letter of resignation the next morning. An Oklahoma State athletic department spokesperson confirmed Williams resigned in good standing.

"He called me the night of the [NCAA title] game and said he was going to Minnesota, that he had been offered a job by Tubby," Sutton said in a telephone interview. "I know he has a daughter in Minneapolis, so I was happy for him, because he was going home."

The morning after he faxed his letter of resignation, Williams said, Smith called to say there might be a problem with Maturi approving his hiring because of the violations history.

The suit claims Williams' reputation has been damaged, making it difficult for him to find a college coaching job. He is now working with former NBA star John Lucas in Houston, tutoring young players.

"Whatever violations he might have committed were 30 years ago," Sutton said. "Jimmy is very well-respected in college basketball. ... I'll tell you this, as many places as Jimmy has coached, you won't find one person with a bad thing to say about him."

  • related content

  • U to kick off Tubby Smith era

    Thursday October 11, 2007

    Gophers fans can get their first look tonight at the coach who caused a stir when he replaced Dan Monson.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions


Texas - WP: N. Martinez 7 FINAL
Oakland - LP: S. Gray 2
Boston - LP: B. Workman 2 FINAL
Pittsburgh - WP: G. Cole 3
Toronto - LP: A. Sanchez 2 FINAL
NY Yankees - WP: D. Robertson 3
Washington - WP: G. Gonzalez 6 FINAL
Miami - LP: B. Hand 2
Los Angeles - WP: P. Rodriguez 8 FINAL
Chicago Cubs - LP: N. Ramirez 4
Cleveland - WP: K. Crockett 2 FINAL
Houston - LP: S. Deduno 1
Milwaukee - LP: J. Nelson 2 FINAL
St. Louis - WP: S. Freeman 3
Arizona - LP: A. Reed 6 FINAL
Colorado - WP: L. Hawkins 7
Philadelphia - LP: K. Kendrick 3 FINAL
San Diego - WP: R. Erlin 7
Seattle - WP: T. Wilhelmsen 3 FINAL
LA Angels - LP: K. Jepsen 1
Tampa Bay 14 FINAL
Atlanta 56
San Diego 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Dallas 9/21/14 12:00 PM
St. Louis
Washington 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Houston 9/21/14 12:00 PM
NY Giants
Minnesota 9/21/14 12:00 PM
New Orleans
Tennessee 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Baltimore 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Green Bay 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Indianapolis 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Oakland 9/21/14 12:00 PM
New England
San Francisco 9/21/14 3:05 PM
Denver 9/21/14 3:25 PM
Kansas City 9/21/14 3:25 PM
Pittsburgh 9/21/14 7:30 PM
Chicago 9/22/14 7:30 PM
NY Jets
(5) Auburn 20 FINAL
(20) Kansas State 14
Connecticut 7:00 PM
So Florida
Old Dominion 9/20/14 11:00 AM
Troy 9/20/14 11:00 AM
(13) Georgia
Georgia Tech 9/20/14 11:00 AM
Virginia Tech
Eastern Mich 9/20/14 11:00 AM
(11) Michigan State
Iowa 9/20/14 11:00 AM
Bowling Green 9/20/14 11:00 AM
(19) Wisconsin
Maryland 9/20/14 11:30 AM
Tulane 9/20/14 11:30 AM
Hawaii 9/20/14 1:00 PM
Marshall 9/20/14 1:00 PM
North Carolina 9/20/14 2:30 PM
East Carolina
Army 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Wake Forest
Virginia 9/20/14 2:30 PM
(21) BYU
(6) Texas A&M 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Rutgers 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Central Mich 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Utah 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Florida 9/20/14 2:30 PM
(3) Alabama
Louisville 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Fla Atlantic 9/20/14 3:00 PM
Indiana 9/20/14 3:00 PM
(18) Missouri
San Jose St 9/20/14 3:00 PM
Texas State 9/20/14 3:00 PM
Massachusetts 9/20/14 3:00 PM
Penn State
Georgia State 9/20/14 5:00 PM
Appalachian St 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Southern Miss
Miss State 9/20/14 6:00 PM
(8) LSU
Northern Ill 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Middle Tennessee 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Utah State 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Arkansas State
Miami-Ohio 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Idaho 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Ohio U
Ball State 9/20/14 6:00 PM
(14) So Carolina 9/20/14 6:30 PM
(4) Oklahoma 9/20/14 6:30 PM
West Virginia
Ga Southern 9/20/14 6:30 PM
South Alabama
UNLV 9/20/14 7:00 PM
(22) Clemson 9/20/14 7:00 PM
(1) Florida State
Miami-Florida 9/20/14 7:00 PM
(24) Nebraska
New Mexico 9/20/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico St
California 9/20/14 9:00 PM
Louisiana 9/20/14 9:30 PM
Boise State
(2) Oregon 9/20/14 9:30 PM
Washington St
San Diego St 9/20/14 9:30 PM
Oregon State
Texas Tech 9/25/14 6:30 PM
(25) Oklahoma State
Appalachian St 9/25/14 6:30 PM
Ga Southern
(12) UCLA 9/25/14 9:00 PM
(15) Arizona State
Toronto 9:00 PM
Brt Columbia
Edmonton 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Calgary 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Ottawa 9/21/14 3:00 PM
Montreal 9/26/14 6:00 PM
Saskatchewan 9/26/14 9:00 PM
Hamilton 9/27/14 5:30 PM
Brt Columbia 9/27/14 8:30 PM
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters


Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 season     
Aug 28 - vs. E. Illinois 6 pmX42-20
Sep 6 - vs. M. Tennessee St. 2:30 pmX35-24
Sep 13 - at TCU 3 pmX30-7
Sep 20 - vs. San Jose St. 3 p.m.
Sep 27 - at Michigan TBA
Oct 11 - vs. Northwestern TBA
Oct 18 - vs. Purdue 11 am
Oct 25 - at Illinois 11 am
Nov 8 - vs. Iowa TBA
Nov 15 - vs. Ohio State TBA
Nov 22 - at Nebraska TBA
Nov 29 - at Wisconsin TBA




question of the day

Poll: How will the Vikings and Gophers do this weekend?

Weekly Question