Van Breda Kolff gains closure after player scandal

Updated: April 19, 2005, 8:18 PM ET
Associated Press

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Fired St. Bonaventure basketball coach Jan van Breda Kolff has agreed to settle his lawsuit against the university that claimed he was wrongfully dismissed in 2003 following a player eligibility scandal.

Terms of the settlement, which was supervised by a federal magistrate judge, were not disclosed. The university said its costs would be covered by an insurance carrier.

"I am delighted that this sad chapter in my life and that of the university is behind us," van Breda Kolff said in a statement Tuesday. "I wish for St. Bonaventure and its men's basketball program every future success."

Van Breda Kolff claimed breach of contract, libel and other issues in a $21.5 million lawsuit filed a year ago in U.S. District Court in Buffalo.

Van Breda Kolff was dismissed in April 2003, shortly after the men's basketball program was sanctioned by the Atlantic 10 Conference for using junior forward Jamil Terrell, who was ruled ineligible because he failed to meet NCAA junior college transfer guidelines.

The team was stripped of six conference victories and barred from the postseason. Players voted to boycott their final two games in protest, a move that cost the school more than $120,000 in fines.

A St. Bonaventure investigation found no direct evidence that van Breda Kolff knew of Terrell's status, but concluded he should have attempted to determine the player's eligibility considering he was aware that questions had been raised.

"We are pleased to bring this matter to closure," said Sister Margaret Carney, St. Bonaventure president.

Van Breda Kolff was completing his second season at St. Bonaventure when he was fired, and had four years left on his contract, worth about $900,000.

He was the head coach at Vanderbilt for six seasons and Pepperdine for two before succeeding Jim Baron at St. Bonaventure. Van Breda Kolff took Vanderbilt and Pepperdine to one NCAA tournament each.

"Now that the last remnants of this dark cloud have been lifted, Jan and those who care about him are extremely hopeful that he will soon be able to again become a successful NCAA Division I men's head basketball coach," said van Breda Kolff attorney Lew Conner.

Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press