Lavin won’t return to St. John’s bench

By Joseph Staszewski

Steve Lavin is out as St. John’s men’s basketball coach.

He and the school agreed to mutually part ways after five seasons, St. John’s announced in a statement on Friday afternoon. Lavin was entering the final year of his contract.

The decision comes after a week of speculation about Lavin’s future after a mostly successful time at the helm. There were reports that he and St. John’s were negotiating a mutli-year contract extension, but when the dust finally settled the Red Storm is looking for a new leader.

“In life change is inevitable, so I take the long view,” Lavin said in a statement. “I’m grateful for my time teaching at St. John’s University. I will take with me the lasting friendships forged during my tenure as head coach. I’m proud of our results, both on and off the court – in particular our memorable runs to the NCAA tournament in 2011 and 2015. Most importantly, I take pride in our performance in the classroom, having graduated our student athletes who will represent the institution in a first class manner.”

Lavin took over as head coach in 2010 after a 17-16 campaign under Norm Roberts. He went 81-55 during his tenure and took the Red Storm to the NCAA tournament in his first season and in 2014-2015. The school had gone nine years without reaching the Big Dance before that.

“We thank Coach Lavin for his leadership and all of his contributions to the University,” Red Storm Athletic Director Chris Monasch said. “He infused excitement back into the program, brought us to the postseason four times and recruited student-athletes who excelled on the court, inside the classroom and within the community.”

Lavin helped raised the profile of the program nationally, in the media and on the recruiting trail. St. John’s went 20-12 this season, the second 20-win campaign under Lavin and was ranked as high as No. 15 in country. SJU fell to San Diego State in the second round of the NCAA tournament on March 20.

Despite the program’s success, St. John’s struggled in March and in the playoffs. The Red Storm was 2-8 the post season under Lavin and 6-13 in the month of March. St. John’s last Big East tournament victory was in 2011.

Lavin brought in the No. 3 ranked recruiting class in the country in 2011. The 2014 class had two of its three members never see the court because they were ruled academically ineligible. According to multiple reports, four-star shooting guard Brandon Sampson, the long impact recruit for 2015, has already decommitted from St. John’s, but will reconsider it when a new coach is hired. A national search for Lavin’s replacement has begun.

“Our goal is to be competitive at the highest level of Division I,” Monasch said. “We expect to do that with student-athletes who achieve academically and enrich our University community.”

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