Steve Lavin and St. John’s mutually agreed to part ways Friday, this after Lavin led the Red Storm to two NCAA Tournaments and three 20-win seasons in five years.
St. John’s went 21-12 this season and made the NCAA Tournament, where it lost to No. 8 San Diego State, 76-64. Lavin, 50, will not get to finish the six-year contract he signed in 2010.
“I was a little bit surprised,” Westwood One analyst Gary Cohen said on CBS Sports Radio’s The DA Show. “I think ultimately it came down to money. Steve’s got a lot of other opportunities, particularly in TV, that are going to pay him a lot more than what he was making at St. John’s – or at least as much – for a lot less work. It’s a tough call because he brought in that one great recruiting class that (had) their senior season this year, and some of them fell by the wayside because they went to the NBA and some of them couldn’t make it academically.
“But I thought Lavin did a nice job,” Cohen continued. “He did a terrific coaching job, I thought, this year considering the fact that he really only had six players and did the honorable thing in properly suspended a player for the NCAA Tournament when it would have been in his best interest not to do so. So I was a little surprised to hear that St. John’s let him go. It’s going to be interesting to see where they go from here. There’s certainly plenty of rumors flying around already about Chris Mullin and Danny Hurley – and any of those would be a nice choice. The question is whether either one of those – or anybody else – can do a better job of elevating that St. John’s program. It’ll be interesting to watch.”
Damon Amendolara wondered if St. John’s is still a desirable destination.
“Well, I think it’s still a desirable job,” Cohen said. “It’s a New York City base. The Big East, even though it’s not what it used to be, is still a league that has a lot of basketball panache to it. After all, they were second in the RPI this year as a league 1 through 10. I think it’s a better job now than it was when Steve took the job. When Mike Jarvis left, the program was in shambles and it needed somebody to resurrect it – and I think Lavin did that, and I think that he should get credit for that. The next guy, I think, is going to draw a benefit from that.”