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Former Breck School boys’ basketball coach Matthew McCollister has had a busy off-season.
McCollister resigned from the coaching job at the Golden Valley private school after he guided the team to a winning season – and after a state ethics panel confirmed that McCollister, an attorney, faced possible disciplinary action. Two weeks ago, with the inquiry completed, McCollister was suspended from practicing law by the state Supreme Court.
Now McCollister has been hired at St. Croix Preparatory Academy in Stillwater as its new head basketball coach.
In a May 16 order filed by state Supreme Court Justice Alan Page, McCollister was suspended from practicing law for a minimum of 30 days, and ordered to pay $900 in costs. The order said that McCollister “unconditionally” admitted to allegations that he referred potential clients to a competing attorney outside his law firm, and that he also agreed to the 30-day suspension.
A civil lawsuit had earlier alleged that McCollister was rewarded for diverting potential clients with cash, dinners and an evening at a strip club.
McCollister did not respond to requests for comment, and a spokesperson for Breck said the coach submitted a letter of resignation following the season. The spokesperson, Jill Field, said the school would not comment on the reasons behind the resignation.
“We are aware of the facts and publicity associated with Mr. McCollister’s situation,” Rich Dippel, St. Croix Prep’s activities director, said in an email. “A thorough evaluation of Mr. McCollister’s background, along with reference checks, [was] conducted as a part of the hiring process.”
McCollister guided Breck to a 19-11 winning season this past winter, with the team making it to a sectional title game before losing to eventual Class AA state champion Minnehaha Academy. St. Croix Prep had a 23-6 record last season in Class 1A.
McCollister had been fired by his former employer, TSR Injury Law in Bloomington, which reached a settlement in a civil case that included charges that McCollister was rewarded by an outside lawyer for diverting potential clients. The law firm accused McCollister of receiving “tens of thousands of dollars” to funnel as many as 200 potential clients to Michael Riehm, a competitor.
Breck officials had earlier stood by McCollister and said in late November – as Breck’s basketball season was beginning – that he would continue as head coach.
Field, the school spokesperson, at the time said that the incident was “not related to the school” and had “nothing to do with us.” Brett Bergene, Breck’s athletic director, had added that McCollister had told him he was “confident that everything would work out – nothing would be found.”
Mike Kaszuba • 612-673-4388