Van Breda Kolff contends wrongful dismissal

Updated: July 13, 2004, 1:48 PM ET
Associated Press

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- St. Bonaventure University has asked a federal judge to dismiss former men's basketball coach Jan van Breda Kolff's $21.55 million wrongful dismissal lawsuit.

In the school's first legal response to the suit, lawyer Judy Hernandez argued van Breda Kolff had no basis for his claims, and noted that a clause in his contract allowed the school to dismiss him without cause.

In a 43-page document submitted to U.S. District Court in Buffalo last week, Hernandez also asked that the court consider imposing sanctions against van Breda Kolff's lawyer for filing a claim not supported by law.

Van Breda Kolff was fired in April 2003 following a school investigation after junior forward Jamil Terrell was ruled ineligible for failing to meet NCAA junior college transfer guidelines. Terrell earned a certificate in welding at a community college before transferring and playing for St. Bonaventure for most of the 2002-03 season.

The Atlantic 10 stripped the team of its conference victories and barred it from its league playoff tournament, moves that led to Bonnies players boycotting the final two games of their season.

Van Breda Kolff, an assistant with the NBA New Orleans Hornets last season, has argued that he was not aware of Terrell's status. He had three years left on his contract and owed about $1 million prior to his dismissal.

His lawsuit also includes claims of libel, invasion of privacy and injurious falsehood.

Last February, the NCAA cleared van Breda Kolff of committing any violations, but noted that he was one of at least five school officials who were aware of questions of Terrell's eligibility but failed to contact the A-10 or the NCAA.

University president Robert Wickenheiser resigned in March 2003, and accepted the blame for approving Terrell's transfer.

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press