The Minnesota Court of Appeals has reinstated part of the claim of an assistant basketball coach, who claimed that when University of Minnesota Head Basketball Coach Tubby Smith offered him a job two years ago that he was representing the university.
The distinction is critical since UM Athletic Director Joel Maturi overruled Smith’s decision after learning that plaintiff Jimmy Williams had been a coach in two programs where NCAA violations occurred. By then, Williams had already resigned his position at Oklahoma State University, where he had a year left on his contract and had made arrangements to sell his house and move to Minnesota.
Going forward, the appeals court held that the plaintiff must limit his claim to “whether the university, through Smith, provided (Williams) with false information that (Williams) reasonably relied on by resigning as an assistant coach at OSU.”
Further, the appeals court noted that another key focus for the trial court is Williams’ reliance on the offer and whether he incurred losses as a result of the alleged misrepresentation. “These are considerations that do not intrude substantially on or challenge the university’s internal decision-making process,” the appeals court held.
In the original lawsuit, Williams charged that the university defamed him by highlighting the NCAA violation that had occurred at his other stops. However, the trial court granted summary judgment to the defendants on that charge because Williams never denied NCAA findings of violations.
Williams was represented by attorney Dick Hunegs.
University of Minnesota attorney Mark Rotenberg represented the defendants.