by Max Brantley
Former Arkansas football coach John L. Smith has been accused of using his employment contracts with the Razorbacks to defraud several of his creditors, according to two complaints filed this week in U.S. Bankruptcy Court.
Smith filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy last year, claiming more than $40 million in liabilities stemming from failed real estate deals around Louisville. By doing so, Smith hoped to have those debts discharged so he can move on with his life. But the creditors are trying to prevent that by filing complaints that are tantamount to civil lawsuits.
The bankruptcy arm of the U.S. Department of Justice also has investigated Smith for potential fraud and abuse of the bankruptcy system but has not filed a complaint, according to court filings.
Smith made a series of transactions "with the intent to hinder, delay, or defraud creditors," said one of the complaints filed Monday.
There have been many past reports about how Smith's one-year football coaching contract was structured to backload payments, thereby reducing his reported income during his bankruptcy proceeding. It was a break from tradition and, in this, the UA has some spiritual culpability, if not legal.
Arkansas Athletic Director Jeff Long told reporters last year the deferral was made for Smith's retirement. However, Smith, 64, did not retire. He recently was hired to coach at Fort Lewis College in Colorado after not being retained by Arkansas.
"The debtor was aware he was planning to file a petition for relief under Chapter 7, and his effort to renegotiate the terms of his original compensation package was intended to place such funds beyond the reach of the creditors," one of the complaints states.
The same complaint also says Smith transferred several valuable assets in recent years to his daughter and a trust in his wife's name. By doing so, the creditors allege he was concealing money owed them.
SPEAKING OF HOG FOOTBALL: Report from KNWA on the arrest of senior defensive end Austin Flynn for DWI. Local newspaper article says he's the ninth Razorback football player arrested since last March.