NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Is St. John’s leaning toward a split with head men’s basketball coach Steve Lavin, or is he on the verge of a contract extension?
That depends on where you get your news.
Conflicting reports are swirling after Friday’s ouster against San Diego State in the first full round of the NCAA Tournament. SportsNet New York’s website cited sources on Tuesday who indicated the 50-year-old would likely get the ax with St. John’s administrators set to discuss his future. The New York Post reported that “several sources close to the program believe Lavin is on the way out,” while cautioning the school has remained tight-lipped.
“I’d be shocked if he ever survived this,” one source told SNY.tv, while another said there’s a “power struggle” and “(c)ertain people want to go in different directions.”
If indeed there is a clash within the ranks, the Lavin backers could have the edge. The Sporting News reported on Wednesday that the coach is engaged in negotiations to extend his deal with the university. His original six-year contract will expire after next season.
An agreement “could be announced early next week,” the Sporting News reported.
Lavin brought excitement and a knack for recruitment back to the Red Storm when he was hired in March 2010. He led the team to the NCAA Tournament in his first season, ending a nine-year drought. St. John’s was back in the dance this year — its second trip under Lavin — though the school is still looking for its first tournament win since 2000.
He’s 1-4 in postseason play with St. John’s, including two trips to the NIT. The Red Storm have an equally dismal 1-4 record in the Big East Tournament during Lavin’s five-year tenure.
“I’m just a poor Big East — I’m a poor conference tournament coach,” Lavin said earlier this month after another early exit from the Big East Tournament.
Lavin has an 81–55 record with the Red Storm. He coached just four games in 2011-12 due to a bout with prostate cancer.
Whatever the decision, St. John’s will want to move quickly with impact seniors D’Angelo Harrison, Jamal Branch, Phil Greene and Sir’Dominic Pointer set to graduate and the all-important spring recruiting period right around the corner. Junior center Chris Obekpa’s future with the program is in doubt after he was suspended and forced to sit out March Madness due to violating team rules, reportedly failing a test for marijuana, and the Red Storm could potentially lose star guard Rysheed Jordan to the NBA draft.
“He brought St. John’s back,” Greene said of Lavin after last week’s NCAA Tournament loss, according to the Post. “I think that he should still be here when we’re gone.”