ST. PAUL, Minn. - The Minnesota Supreme Court has overturned a $1 million award against the University of Minnesota and men's basketball coach Tubby Smith over the hiring of an assistant coach.
Jimmy Williams quit his job as an assistant coach at Oklahoma State in 2007 because he believed Smith had hiring authority when he offered him an assistant coaching job. Minnesota later withdrew the offer because Williams had NCAA rules violations during a previous stint as an assistant for the Golden Gophers more than 20 years ago.
Williams sued, and a Hennepin County jury and the state appeals court sided with him. But the Minnesota Supreme Court on Wednesday reversed those decisions, saying Williams was not entitled to protection against negligent misrepresentations from Smith about his hiring authority.
University of Minnesota General Counsel Mark Rotenberg issued a written statement Wednesday afternoon in the wake of the decision. It reads:
"The university is pleased with today's decision, which finally puts an end to this case and vindicates our longstanding position that Williams' claims against Coach Smith and the university had no legal merit. We are particularly gratified by the Court's clear recognition that Smith did not mislead Willliams into quitting his job at OSU. Williams' mistaken assumption was unfortunate, but that did not justify five years of litigation against the university."
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