Friday, March 27, 2015

St. John's and Steve Lavin part ways after five seasons

Steve Lavin is out after five seasons at St. John's, despite talk of a possible contract extension. (Photo courtesy of the New York Daily News)

The Steve Lavin era is over at St. John's.

Lavin, who guided the Red Storm to the NCAA Tournament twice during his five-year tenure, mutually agreed with the St. John's administration to part ways, the conclusion to a week of speculation of whether his job was in jeopardy after a loss to San Diego State seven days ago tonight in the Round of 64.

A national search is underway to find a replacement for the 50-year-old Lavin, who restored the winning culture to a once-proud basketball program upon replacing Norm Roberts in 2010, but only won two postseason games at the helm, one of which was the controversy-marred Big East tournament contest against Rutgers with a senior-laden roster comprised almost entirely of Roberts' recruits.

"Coach Lavin returned high expectations to our men's basketball program," athletic director Chris Monasch said in a statement issued by the university this afternoon, "and represented St. John's in a positive way. We appreciate his commitment to the program and to our student-athletes over the past five years."

Shortly after Lavin's departure was announced, some of his now-former players took to social media to voice their sentiments toward their coach. In particular, outgoing senior guard D'Angelo Harrison, last year's MBWA Haggerty Award winner and St. John's third-leading scorer, praised Lavin as being "more than a coach in my life for me and my family." "I owe him for changing my life," Harrison's tweet continued. Phil Greene, his teammate and backcourt partner, called Lavin a "father figure, to me and us all."

St. John's compiled an official record of 81-53 under Lavin, with all but four games from the 2011-12 season attributed to then-assistant coach Mike Dunlap while the head coach underwent successful treatment for prostate cancer.

"In life, change is inevitable," Lavin stated, "so I take the long view. 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."

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