The University of Minnesota said on Monday that it will appeal a state Appeals Court ruling that upheld a $1 million award to would-be assistant men's basketball coach Jimmy Williams for a rescinded job offer.
"[The] judgment against coach [Tubby] Smith and the university, if allowed to stand, has the potential to harm the university now and in the future," said university general counsel Mark Rotenberg.
Rotenberg said he intends to file the appeal with the state Supreme Court "in the next several days." The court will decide whether to hear the case.
The university maintains a $1 million insurance policy covering claims of this nature.
Williams will not be paid pending the ongoing appeals process.
Williams' attorney, Donald Chance Mark Jr., said the Supreme Court appeal will mark the third by the university.
"I wonder if, for some reason, this has become personal on behalf of the university and its general counsel," he said. "It doesn't seem to me this case is going to have a long-term adverse affect on the university. If there's any short-term harm, it's a result of the behavior of the university and Coach Smith."
In an order on Oct. 17, the Appeals Court dismissed several arguments by Smith and the U that the 2010 jury verdict and award should be thrown out.
At the time of the ruling, Rotenberg said multiple assertions are up for debate, including why Williams would quit his job at Oklahoma State after being told the job at the U was in doubt.
In May 2010, a Hennepin County jury concluded that Smith had misrepresented the extent of his authority in 2007 by offering an assistant coaching spot to Williams, leading him to resign from that same position at Oklahoma State.
Gophers athletic director Joel Maturi later overruled Smith and nixed the offer to Williams because of NCAA violations during his earlier tenure as an assistant at Minnesota. Williams found himself unemployed and sued Smith.
The jury found that Smith falsely represented to Williams that he had final authority to hire assistant basketball coaches at Minnesota, that Smith failed to tell Williams of the limits of his hiring authority and that Williams was harmed.
Staff writer Abby Simons contributed to this report. Paul Walsh 612-673-4482