Former St. John’s men’s basketball assistant head coach, Steve DeMeo has filed a discrimination and retaliation lawsuit against the Queens school and head coach, Mike Anderson — the law firm that’s carrying out the suit told amNewYork Metro on Thursday.
The suit claims that DeMeo was “unlawfully fired” by Anderson at “an unusual and off-cycle time” shortly after the former assistant disclosed that he needed accommodations due to a heart condition that made him immunocompromised during the pandemic.
“No one is above the law, and Division I basketball schools and their head coaches are no exception,” a statement from David E. Gottlieb and Renan F. Varghese from Wigdor LLP read. “St. John’s and Mr. Anderson’s decision to terminate Mr. DeMeo was a flagrant abuse of power and is deplorable conduct for a person expected to be a role model to student-athletes. We look forward to holding St. John’s and Mr. Anderson fully accountable.”
According to Sports Illustrated, DeMeo suffered from mitral valve prolapse, which caused an irregular heartbeat. It required surgery in August last year along with the removal of a mass on his left vocal cord. He needed further procedures performed following the 2020-21 season.
Also listed in the suit were allegations of a broken relationship between Anderson and his players — which almost saw a “revolt” and “mutiny” from the student-athletes.
“On March 6, 2021, St. John’s played its final game fo the regular season against Seton Hall University. During the first half of the game, Mr. Anderson instigated an argument with Isaih Moore over Mr. Moore’s shot selection. Mr. Anderson lost his temper and told his coaches at halftime that he was kicking Mr. Moore off the team from the locker room.
“Mr. DeMeo and other coaches believed that Mr. Anderson was overreacting in the heat of competition and that Mr. Moore did not deserve to be kicked off the team… In reaction to Mr. Anderson’s announcement, the rest of the players banded together and said they would not go out onto the court and play the second half of the game to protest Mr. Anderson’s unjust treatment of Mr. Moore.”
It is also being alleged that St. John’s opted not to play in the NIT Tournament this year because the players didn’t want to work with Anderson anymore.
DeMeo has since been hired by the East Carolina University basketball program as an assistant coach.