John L. Smith Denies Concealing Assets in Bankruptcy

John L. Smith Denies Concealing Assets in Bankruptcy
John L. Smith, former football coach for the University of Arkansas Razorbacks. (Beth Hall)

Former Arkansas Razorbacks football Coach John L. Smith on Friday denied his creditors’ allegations that he attempted to "hinder, delay or defraud" them in his $40.7 million bankruptcy case.

In a court document, Smith denied all “allegations of inferences of bad faith or intent to defraud.”

In February, creditors sued Smith in U.S. Bankruptcy Court to block him from discharging nearly $18 million in debt.  

One group of real estate investors said in the lawsuit that Smith can't explain where his money went.

On July 9, 2008, Smith and his wife, Diana Smith, reported $7.6 million in assets and debts of just under $1 million. By Jan. 12, 2011, Smith said he only had $27,500 in assets and debts of nearly $14 million.

In their lawsuit, the creditors alleged that Smith transferred $180,000 to family members between Oct. 23, 2007 and Sept. 18, 2008.

In 2008, Smith cashed two certificates of deposit worth $1 million, but he "is unable to explain the current location of the funds," the lawsuit said.

The lawsuit also said that in April, Smith renegotiated his $850,000 contract with the Razorback Foundation and the University of Arkansas so he would "receive the majority of these payments after he filed for Chapter 7 relief in an effort to place the majority of theses payments beyond the reach of his creditors knowing he was planning to file for Chapter 7 relief."  

Smith, who was on an interim, 10-month contract with the UA football program, took over as coach at Division 2 Fort Lewis College. UA Athletic Director Jeff Long said in October that the university did not have the bankruptcy in mind when it agreed to delay payments to Smith.