NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — After leading St. John’s to its first NCAA Tournament appearance since the 2014-15 season, Chris Mullin has stepped down as head coach after four seasons.
The rumors started flying minutes before the tip-off of Monday night’s national championship game. The move comes not long after he received a vote of confidence from the school’s administration.
On Tuesday afternoon, Mullin and the university made the decision official. Mullin cited a “recent personal loss” as part of his decision to leave the program, in a statement after the announcement.
“I took time to reflect upon my true values and believe this is the right time to make a change,” Mullin said.
Mullin, who is a two-time inductee into the Naismith National Basketball Hall of Fame and arguably the greatest player in St. John’s history, went 59-73 with his alma mater, including 21-13 this season.
Led by star guard Shamorie Ponds, St. John’s started the season 12-0, but struggled to an 8-10 record in Big East play. The Red Storm were the last team to get into the NCAA tournament, and were bounced in the First Four by Arizona State.
Bobby Hurley, the current head coach at ASU, is reportedly at the top of St. John’s wish list to take over for Mullin. He has a good relationship with St. John’s athletic director Mike Cragg, the New York Post reported.
“It’s his job if he wants it,” a source told the newspaper.
Since that loss to Hurley and Arizona State, St. John’s has been dealt additional setbacks. Ponds announced his intention to sign with an agent and enter the NBA draft. Assistant Matt Abdelmassih, who was largely responsible for recruiting, left the program to join Nebraska. Junior college point guard Cam Mack, Mullin’s top recruit, requested the release from his National Letter of Intent.
Mullin had two years and roughly $4 million remaining on his contract, but was seeking an extension, the Post reported.